KILBARCHAN Athletics Club athlete Jemma Reekie went from lying in a hospital bed to becoming European champion in a matter of months, and she admits she still has to pinch herself when reminded of her achievements in 2017.

The 19-year-old has had a spectacular breakthrough onto the international scene. She won two golds at the European Indoor Championships in January before topping the podium again with a win in the 1500m at the European Under-20 Championships in July, an event she looked extremely unlikely to even qualify for after taking ill during her preparations.

Reekie says her landmark year, which included personal best times at every distance from 800m to 3000m, is only just beginning to sink in.

She said: “It’s been an amazing year, I learned so much and I gained lots of experience. I had some good results as well.

“It’s taken some time for what I’d achieved to sink in because during track season you don’t really get the chance to reflect on it, it’s just about focussing on the next race.

“But now I can look back and enjoy everything I’ve achieved.”

Being hospitalised with a bad bout of asthma wasn’t the only hurdle put in the middle distance runner’s way on her journey to European gold.

Reekie had to show a strength of mind beyond her tender years after finishing fourth in the 3000m in Italy having led the race until the closing stages.

With the 1500m taking place the next day and little time to recover physically and mentally, the teenager’s chances of a medal looked bleak.

But after some words from coach Andy Young, she was able to deliver the performance of her budding career to win gold.

She said: “During the indoor season I got the 800m qualifying time but closer to the time I went to America for some altitude training, which gave me a limited time to get my times down.

“When I got back I was unwell with my asthma and ended up in hospital, at that point I didn’t know if I’d have time to get the times to qualify. It’s (asthma) been hard to deal with in the past year. But hopefully now I’ve got it under control and it won’t be a problem again.

“I wasn’t well after the 3k, my body was too hot so I had to see the doctor and cool down. My recovery plan didn’t start until about 30 minutes after the race instead of starting it straight away like I’m supposed to.

“I just recovered as quick as I could and tried to forget about the 3k. I spoke to my coach Andy (Young) and he told me to focus on giving everything in the 1500m. The mental side of things is something I’ve worked on over my two years with Andy, just trying to and focus on what is ahead.”