Tokyo Olympics: Alex Bell grabs lifeline with both hands

ALEX Bell will run in an Olympic final just weeks after she thought her Tokyo dreams had disappeared.

Great Britain's Alexandra Bell (left) after the second women's 800 metres semi-final at the Olympic Stadium. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA

The Leeds 800m runner initially missed out on selection for the Games but was given a late reprieve when Laura Muir pulled out of the 800m to focus on the 1500m.

From the depths of despair, Bell was handed a lifeline and she grabbed it with both hands, running 1:58.83 in the semi-finals to secure a place in tomorrow’s final – one of a record three Brits to make it through.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

To say it has been a rollercoaster would be an understatement.

Great Britain's Alexandra Bell in action during the second 800m semi final at the Olympic Stadium. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA

The 28-year-old said: “A week prior to flying out I can’t tell you the lows I was facing and feeling and some of the emotions that I didn’t think were possible.

“My world flipped round with one phone call and I was happy to grab the opportunity with both hands and just enjoy it. I cried on the phone to the team leader – he said it was the best phone call he ever had. The world was turned upside down, I refocused!”

It has been an incredible turnaround for Bell, but more than that, this was a stunning result for the British middle-distance runners on an evening dominated by Dina Asher-Smith’s failure to make the final of the 100m and subsequent withdrawal from the 200m because of a hamstring injury.

That will have been a body blow for the athletics team in Japan, with Asher-Smith the team captain, but the 800m girls went some way to making up for it. Bell will be joined in the final by Jemma Reekie and 19-year-old Keely Hodgkinson.

Bell’s time was actually the quickest of the three, but she was third in her semi-final so endured an agonising wait to see if she had made it.

She said: “I sat waiting for ages for that last heat but it was worth it! I wanted to make it fast.

“I said coming into this race I was going to enjoy every single step I was going to take and I did and I was so relaxed and so happy going into that race that the performance reflected how I was feeling and I just wanted to make it my own, even if it was going to be the last race I did.

“It was a long wait but it paid off and I’m over the moon to join the other two as well, what a trio! Honestly I knew them girls would do it, and I can honestly say we’re going to give them all hell in two days’ time. It’s going to be unbelievable – anything can happen.”

No-one does more to support our Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise around £36 million each week for good causes including grassroots and elite sport. Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has at and get involved by using the hashtags: #TNLAthletes #MakeAmazingHappen