‘It's my dream’ – English sprinter pens open letter to Seb Coe pleading to run for Ireland

‘It's my dream’ – English sprinter pens open letter to Seb Coe pleading to run for Ireland

ENGLISH-BORN sprinter Leon Reid has written an open letter to IAFF president Sebastian Coe pleading to be allowed to race for Ireland at next month’s World Championships.

Reid, 22, is eligible to run for Ireland via both his Belfast-born mother and his second-generation Irish foster mother.

He previously competed for Northern Ireland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Reid began the process of switching allegiances to Ireland over a year ago, but as yet has been unable to finalise the move.

Earlier this month, he revealed he would turn down any offers from Great Britain to keep his Ireland hopes alive – after impressing at Team GB’s World Championship Trials in Birmingham with a surprise third place finish in the 200m.

His time of 20.38 seconds was six-tenths of a second inside the mark required to make it through to next month’s World Championships.

Now, with less than three days remaining until the deadline to switch nationalities for the competition, Reid tweeted an open letter directed at Coe, explaining that it is his “dream” to run for Ireland.

In the letter, he explained that as well as his late Irish biological mother he has “many Irish family members and strong links and affinity to the country".

He pleaded for Coe to show compassion and allow him to represent Ireland at the World Championships in memory of his mother.

“I won’t be able to take my place on the British Team because I am in the process of transferring to Ireland — an unsuccessful process that has unfortunately already taken over 12 months thus far,” Reid wrote.

“I was unable to take my place on the Ireland team as my current transfer from Great Britain to Ireland has been held up as a result of the IAAF freeze of movement of athletes from one country to another.

“I am scared that with the final date for selection this Sunday 23 July that my international transfer will not go through and I will miss out on competing in London in August.”

Reid explained that as a child who grew up in the care system, his dream of becoming a professional athlete became his “salvation".

He said he works three jobs to fund his athletics career and has had to put his “life on hold” to achieve his dream of running for Ireland.

“My biological mother is Irish, and my foster mother is second generation Irish. I have many Irish family members and strong links and affinity to the country,” he said.

“It has long been a dream of mine to one day compete for Ireland internationally — a decision which was ultimately made in honour of my mum who passed away last year.

“This dream became closer to a reality when I formally contacted Ireland on June 22nd 2016 to start the paperwork process.”

Reid said that British Athletics had not replied to Ireland Athletics’ request to transfer him to their team despite this being done a month in advance of Sunday’s transfer freeze.

He said that the failure by British Athletics to respond to his request had made Ireland powerless to complete the transfer.

“As an athlete that has dedicated my whole life to compete in events such as this I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to compete by right on the biggest stage,” he writes.

“I have run fast enough to be in the Ireland team and I believe that a duty lies with the governing, professional or representative bodies, nationally or otherwise, to help and enable me to compete.”

The Bath-born racer then explained how a failure to compete next month will result in a massive loss of funds, before asking Coe to show compassion and force the move through.

“If I don’t compete I could lose tens of thousands of pounds in lost funding, sponsorships and races. That is not to mention the money that I have already lost due to the length of time this process has taken.

“I will also lose the opportunity to compete in the ‘best’ and most supported World Championships in front of a home crowd. I will lose out on the opportunity to create my own history. That’s something that money simply cannot buy.

“Lord Coe you were an incredible athlete. You were one of my heroes growing up. You will appreciate how amazing it is to compete at the highest levels and I know you wouldn’t have wanted to miss out because of the actions of others

“All I want is to have the chance to compete. If I don’t compete I will never know how good I can be.”

He added: “I am personally asking you to be compassionate and allow me the opportunity to pursue my dream.”