Stephanie Davis says she is still waiting for her whirlwind journey from club runner to elite athlete to sink in after being officially named on Thursday in the Team GB marathon squad for the Tokyo Olympics.
Davis, who combines running for her local club Clapham Chasers with working for an asset management company, said her life had been “exciting but a bit mad” since she won the British trials last week – with numerous well-wishers hailing her story as an inspiration.
The 30-year-old Scot said she never dreamed her late blossoming career would end up with an Olympic spot. “When I was younger I did shorter distances and some cross country,” she said. “I wasn’t terrible but I definitely wasn’t on the podiums at national level. I did race against Lynsey Sharp in the 800s, and she always slaughtered me. I would make it through the finals but I was definitely always last.
“Back then I never thought I’d be getting to this level. I just didn’t think it would be possible. It just shows you that everyone’s journey is different. And if you just put in the hard work, and when the time is right for you, then it can happen.”
Davis, who will be joined in the women’s team by Stephanie Twell and Jessica Piasecki after Charlotte Purdue was surprisingly overlooked, ran her first marathon in 2018 when she debuted in a respectable 2hr 41min. Since then she has kicked on impressively and looked to have plenty more in the tank when setting a personal best of 2hr 27min 16sec last week.
“I can’t quite believe my name is on the list,” Davis said. “I’m still waiting for it to really sink in. But I have been so touched by the amount of people who have messaged me to say: ‘What an inspiration you are.’ It’s not something I expected to hear.”
However, Davis said she had chuckled after reading in some race reports that she was a senior financial adviser. “I’m just waiting to be told that I’m CEO next,” she joked. “I don’t do number crunching as I’m on the admin side – my official title is corporate access specialist. I did sports science at university so I’m not qualified to give financial advice.”
Her next big race will be at the Olympics, but she admits she has no idea what the marathon course in Sapporo is like – or even what time the race starts. “I know it’s going to be warm so that’s something I’m going to have to factor in to my training. Hopefully, depending on Covid, I’ll get away to do some kind of warm‑weather training, which I’m like really excited about because I’ve never been on a proper training camp.”
Davis said there was no secret to her success – except for that fact she “does not focus on crazy mileage” unlike many runners, preferring to swim and cross-train instead – although she admits she is a bit of a porridge “fiend”, too. “I’m going to have to take lots with me,” she said with a smile. “I’m hoping a Scottish porridge company will give me some free sponsorship and an unlimited lifetime supply.”
Four other British athletes were also selected on Thursday, including Ben Connor, Callum Hawkins and Chris Thompson in the men’s marathon and Tom Bosworth in the men’s 20km race walk.