Bermudian-born Jake Smith breaks Welsh half-marathon record
Bermudians can claim a connection to Welsh half-marathon record-holder Jake Smith...he was born here 22 years ago.
The long-distance runner, who lived here for a year with his English parents, is making a name for himself in road races in Wales. The island got a mention when the BBC featured him in a recent article, referring to him as Bermudian-born.
Smith is eligible to compete for Wales after being based in Cardiff for three years while he studied at Cardiff Metropolitan University, but switched his allegiance to England six week after breaking the Welsh half-marathon record.
Smith broke Steve Jones’s 34-year-old Welsh record at the World Half Marathon Championships in October in Poland, the same event Sean Trott competed in Bermuda virtually because of travel restrictions owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Smith ran a time of 1hr 36sec to finish eighteenth in the Poland race, his first senior race for Great Britain, and the third fastest time ever recorded by a British athlete after Mo Farah and Cullum Hawkins.
The most difficult decision for Smith after that was switching his allegiance to England. "This is a hard decision for me to make, but I feel it’s the right decision," he told the BBC.
"I thought at first it was only natural for me to turn Welsh, as I live here and have done for the past three years, but I feel as though I hadn't thought it through properly.
"The big turning point for me was when I broke Steve Jones’s — a Welsh legend of distance running — half-marathon record after only being Welsh for four days," Smith wrote on Instagram.
"As both my parents were born in England and I don't have any family ties in Wales, I would feel much better representing England at future competitions.
"However, I would like to thank Welsh Athletics for everything they have done for me as their support to date has been incredible."
Smith was born in Bermuda where his parents, runners themselves, were coached by former national 800 metres record-holder Steve Burgess, whom Smith describes as having been close with his present coach, James Thie.
Thie, from Wales, is a two-times KPMG Front Street Mile winner — in 2003 and 2004.
The Smith family moved to Hong Kong when Jake was 2 and he took part in a variety of sports while growing up, including football, rugby union and hockey as well as running.
“My mum and dad were good runners and they just enjoyed going out for runs,” Smith told AthleticsWeekly.com this year.
“Where we lived in Hong Kong was in the countryside with all the mountains so they would take me on loads of runs and I got into it. I went into the cross-country team and when I was 16 or 17, I dropped the other sports and concentrated on running.”
That was around the time that the family moved again, this time to Devon in England where Smith would go on to make his Great Britain team debut.
“I think mountain running is probably the hardest thing I have ever done!” said Smith, who formed part of the junior squad at the 2016 European Mountain Running Championships in Arco, Italy.