WHEN Jemma Reekie broke onto the senior international scene in 2018, it was not always smooth sailing for the 21-year-old.

She was the up-and-coming star whose performances were catching the attention of the athletics world and she began to break into the senior GB team, much to the discontent of some of the older, more established athletes.

As she gained her first GB senior call-ups, including making the team for her first European Championships, not everyone was pleased to see her progress.

“Last year, I found things quite difficult because I felt like I was disrupting the team in some ways,” the 1500m specialist said.

“It was hard because the older girls are all friends with each other and then all of a sudden, there was this new person who was coming in and mixing it up and they weren’t all delighted about it. So it was quite tough - I found it hard emotionally.”

But these struggles did not affect Reekie’s performance, nor her motivation, one single bit. If anything, it drove her on further, and 2019 has transpired to be even more successful for the Ayrshire runner.

Still young, Reekie’s primary target for this year was success at the European under-23 Championships in Sweden.

Heading into the championships, Reekie, who had won under-20 European gold in 2017, thought she would be content with spots on the podium in both the 800m and the 1500m.

But when she stood on the line, she knew she wanted more.

“As soon as I walked on the track, I knew I wouldn’t be happy unless I won two golds,” she said.

“I just knew that anything less than that would be a disappointment.”

To do the double was quite an ask, but Reekie duly delivered. Gold in both events was an impressive achievement, but Reekie did not give herself too much time to celebrate.

Just a week later, she was in the British team for the Diamond League Anniversary Games in London, one of the biggest meets in the sport outside of the major championships. Reekie could be forgiven for being somewhat overawed by being on such a stage at such a young age but there has never been a hint of that from the Kilbarchan AC athlete.

At the Anniversary Games, Reekie ran a new personal best and more significantly, dipped under the qualifying time for the World Championships in Doha. It was a run that surprised even herself.

“In London, when I crossed the line, I thought it must have been close to a PB but then when someone told me it was 4:02, I couldn’t believe it,” she said.

“So it was such an amazing week for me with the European under-23s and then running a time like that.”

Reekie ultimately was eliminated in the heats at the World Championships in October, but she is now an established senior athlete and of all the improvements she’s made in the past twelve months, perhaps the most significant is the shift in her mindset.

“I think the big difference this year is that I feel like I deserve to be there. Even if I am disrupting the team like I was last year well, so what, I deserve to be there,” she said.

“I feel much more confident in myself this year and whenever I do well, I really feel like I deserve it. I know in myself that I train so hard and it’s down to me that I’m making the teams.

“And if people want to beat me, they’re going to have to work even harder.”

Going into 2020, there is a huge goal looming for Reekie. This is her first tilt at Olympic qualification, which has been a life-long goal. The enormity of it could feel like a pressure but instead of feeling stressed, Reekie only feels excited.

And she knows that grabbing a seat on the plane to Japan is down to one person and one person only.

“People ask me if I’m feeling nervous and I really don’t,” she said.

"I just need to keep running well and if I keep working hard, there’s no reason I won’t be in Tokyo. When I think about that, I do think wow, that’s crazy.”

Tokyo is likely to be the first of several Olympic appearances for Reekie. But as she gets older, she knows that merely making the team will not be enough to keep her satisfied.

“Recently, I was at a family thing and someone asked me when I think I’d be happy in my career,” she said.

“I said ‘well, I don’t think I’ll be totally satisfied until I’ve been to the Olympics and won gold’. I’ve always been like that – I just want to be the best.”