When Team GB’s Stephanie Davis makes her Olympic debut in the Women's Marathon at Tokyo 2020 at 23:00 tonight (BST), it will cap her meteoric rise as she made her debut at the 26.2-mile distance less than three years ago! We talked to her about her ‘surreal’ Tokyo 2020 experience, how wanting to impress a boy changed her life, and missing her turtle.
Stephanie is one of 30 British endurance athletes funded by London Marathon Events, and we caught up with her recently for a chat about her ‘surreal’ Olympic experience, how wanting to impress a boy changed her life, and missing her turtle.
Unassuming and grounded, Stephanie admits representing Team GB in Tokyo has taken a while to sink in. Tonight will only be her fifth competitive marathon after bursting onto the scene in the last three years.
The 30-year-old Glaswegian went from running with friends at the 2018 BMW Berlin Marathon, finishing in a time of 2:41:16, and completing the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon in 2:32:38 (pictured above) before comfortably achieving the Olympic qualification by completing her third ever marathon in 2:27:40 at Valencia 2019.
London-based Steph then confirmed her place in Tokyo by winning the 2021 British Athletics Marathon at Kew Gardens in March with a time of 2:27:16. Here’s what she had to say when we caught up for a chat recently.
How are you feeling about representing Team GB in Tokyo?
It’s taken a while to sink in. When I ran the qualifying time, I was so excited, so happy, overwhelmed – it felt so surreal. Sometimes it still feels a bit surreal. I’m taking each day as it comes, and the excitement is slowly building and building.
What are your hopes for the race?
To perform my best. I can’t ask for more than that.
What does this extra funding mean to you? How will it help?
As an unsponsored athlete, the funding is a huge help towards physio, kit and travel. To have support from the London Marathon and Scottish Athletics is really helpful.
Who inspired you to get to Tokyo 2020?
My teammates at Clapham Chasers. They’re great athletes who work hard, show commitment and drive.
What item are you missing the most from home?
Who was your first sporting hero? Why?
Dame Kelly Holmes. I loved watching the track races and her Olympic gold double at Athens 2004 is a big memory.
What's one of your earliest sporting memories?
Winning my school cross country to impress a boy – I worked so hard!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to take up running?
View running as a journey that grows over time, start off slowly and enjoy the build.
Favourite place to run?
Mallorca. I’ve spent a lot of summers there, so it feels like my second home.
Describe your perfect day?
Sunshine, long run, brunch, afternoon walk in the park, read my book, Sunday roast, early to bed.
What helped you cope during lockdown?
You can only choose one – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok? Why?
Instagram. I like to share ideas, recipes, glimpse into other people's life and hobbies.
Recommend a book, film or TV programme you've enjoyed recently?
Deena Kastor's autobiography – Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory.
Would you prefer to achieve Olympic gold or a World Record?
World record. In the marathon everyone strives for time and it would be very cool to be the fastest ever.
Tune into to BBC One at 23:00 to see if Stephanie can continue her incredible rise to prominence with a fifth consecutive personal best. We’ll all be cheering her on from home and we’re sure her turtle will be too!