8 July 2016
British long jump champion Jazmin Sawyers (coach: Alan Lerwill) is aiming for major international success this summer on the back of selection for both the European Championships and Olympic Games.
The word for Sawyers’ form over the last few years would surely be ‘consistent’ – the now 22 year-old hasn’t endured a medal dry year for some time now having won European U23 silver, Commonwealth silver and European Juniors’ silver over the past three years. In beating British record holder Shara Proctor (Rana Reider) at June’s British Championships, Sawyers also added the title of British crown to her ever-increasing list of accolades.
Heading into the British Championships the City of Stoke athlete was aware her Olympic hopes were in the balance – requiring a top two finish and a jump of 6.70m or more (the Olympic qualifying standard). She delivered in style, leaping to a new personal best of 6.75m, a noteworthy performance under intense pressure.
“I couldn’t be happier to have done what I needed to do in Birmingham; leading up to British Championships all that was on my mind was making sure that I got that 6.70m jump and made the top two. Now that it’s done I look back and think ‘I’ve achieved that’ - and that in itself is something I’m really happy with, but there’s still more to be done yet, I’ve got to go to Amsterdam & Rio and perform well again.”
In jumping 6.75m at the British Championships last month, Sawyers leapt to 12th on the all-time British rankings, something she’s hoping to make ground on at both the European Championships and Olympic Games: “The way British long jump is at the moment it’s amazing to be named and thought of amongst the other girls – we’ve got three girls who can jump over 6.90m which is amazing, I’d certainly like to join them and make it four. “
In spite of her successes, there have also been minor disappointments to contend with; Sawyers finished 13th at this year’s World Indoor Championships, a competition in which she felt she didn’t showcase her ability, although she admits that learning to deal with such setbacks is something that comes with the territory of being a young athlete competing at senior level.
“I was taken out to Portland on an IAAF invitational, I wasn’t actually selected as I didn’t have the standards, so the IAAF invited me and British Athletics accepted it. After competing my first thought was ‘I’ve come out here to prove myself and I haven’t done that, I’ve let myself down and disappointed the IAAF too, and now it looks like I’m useless’ – but given a bit of time and a good few pep-talks, I realised that wasn’t quite the case and that I was taken to learn, which I felt I did ultimately.’”
Sawyers competed at last year’s European Team Championships in Cheboksary as part of the British team, with this year’s European Championships seeing the Stoke-born athlete compete at another senior international competition, something she is relishing.
“European Championships-wise, I want to be in the final, I want to be in the top eight and without doubt I plan to be competitive. Obviously I want to cement that the 6.70m jump in Birmingham wasn’t a fluke too, so I want to be jumping those figures again and plus. As much as it’s a Championship in its own right, it’s also a great base for preparing for what’s to come in the Olympics too.”
Speaking more on the two major competitions of the summer, Sawyers spoke of her own drive to succeed, adding: “I don’t like going to any competition and coming away empty handed, ultimately that’s what I feel like I’m there for, even if it’s not expected of me, I still feel like that’s what I’m there for. Obviously this year’s a little bit different because the main goal was to make the team for the Olympics; but the European Championships are a big thing too – so as soon as I’m into a final that’s what I’m going for, I’m not there to settle for fifth, sixth, 13th or wherever else.”
Sawyers reached the European Championships long jump final with a 6.49m in qualifying on Wednesday and she goes in the final on Friday evening in confident mood.
Watch the final from 18:20 UK time with coverage on Eurosport 2.
You can follow Jazmin’s journey via @JazminJayne