10th January 2019


Middle-distance specialist Jake Heyward (coach: James Thie; club: Cardiff) is hoping to continue his upward progression in 2019 as another huge season in his development comes into view.

Having finished fourth in the 1500m final of the World Junior Championships and the European Cross Country Championships, claiming a team silver medal in the latter, and clocking the second-fastest ever 1500m time by a junior, Heyward is even more determined to stamp his authority on 2019.

The European Under-23 Championships in Gävle, Sweden, will be his main focus for the summer months, but he is keen to make an impact indoors and stake a claim for a spot on the European Indoor Championships team.

He said: “Before Christmas, the aim was to qualify for the European Cross Country Championships which I did and moving into the indoor season, I’d love to be able to make the European Indoors team.

“I’m looking to put a couple of markers down and I have one eye on the European Indoor 1500m standard of 3:42.00, so I’ll probably run a 1500m and a 3000m to see, but then for the outdoor season, European Under-23s is my main aim.

“Moving into the outdoor season, my big focus will be the European Under-23 Championships in Sweden, and also competing at the British Championships for the first time, also with an eye on the World Championships in Doha.

“I think I have to go for it in the 1500m. I think I can be competitive and it all comes down to the British Championships and the race itself. I feel that the standard is within my grasp now and I guess we’ll see what happens.”

His continued progression earned him a spot on the British Athletics Futures Academy Programme for a third consecutive year in 2019.

The programme, supported by Nike, highlights athletes that have the potential to win medals at future Olympic & Paralympic Games, World Championships and European Championships.

Heyward has utilised the programme to head away on altitude training in South Africa this month and feels that being able to benefit from the programme’s support workshops and environments will continue to enhance his performances this season.

“2019 is my third year on the programme and it’s really helped me during that time. One of the big things personally has been to head away on an altitude training camp in Potchefstroom, South Africa this month.

“Last year, we were able to get tested at Loughborough and see our readouts for strength and power tests amongst other things, giving athletes on the programme a good idea of where we’re at.

“Because of things like that, I’ve built up a few profiles of where I was and where I’m at now in my development and I can see how everything compares so I know if I’m progressing.

“It’s a big honour to be a part of the programme. It’s difficult to get onto it given the number of athletes in Great Britain & Northern Ireland and it’s a nice feeling to know that there is someone that’s looking out for you and keeping an eye on your development,” he added

At just 19, Heyward already has international titles to his name, having claimed European Youth and European Junior 1500m gold in 2016 and 2017 respectively, and gained comparisons to the likes of Olympic silver medallist Steve Cram with his performances in the summer.

He earned more admirers by overtaking Olympic 1500m silver medallist Steve Cram to move second on the all-time British Under-20 1500m list, clocking 3:36.90 at 2018’s Muller Anniversary Games.

Bettering the likes of Olympians Cram, Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe for his age is a huge achievement, but he wants to continue to force his way into the top echelons of middle distance runners in Great Britain & Northern Ireland and emulate their international success.

Heyward assessed: “It’s a massive honour to be compared to people like Steve Cram, he’s someone who achieved a lot in his career and he’s definitely someone that I try and model myself off.

“Seb Coe and Steve Ovett, the runners of that era, James [Thie] has talked about before in training and it’s great to be mentioned alongside them for what I’ve done.

“At the same time, I’ve just stepped up from the junior ranks to the Under-23s and we all progress at different rates. Just because I ran a certain time at a certain age doesn’t mean anything. I have to focus on working hard and hopefully progress at the same rate they did.”

Alongside his athletics career and training schedule, Heyward is also balancing a degree in Accounting & Finance at Cardiff University.

Despite taking more of an interest in the sports science nature of his training in recent months, he feels it is a nice break to be able to switch off from athletics and focus his attention on something different

“I like the fact that it’s slightly different and it’s not too intense in the sense that it’s not athletics all the time, whereas something like something like sport science would be.

“I’m still really interested in the sports science element of athletics, for instance we’ve started doing things like measuring lactic acid in our system after training sessions, but with regards to my degree, I needed something that was different.

“It is a big lifestyle change, going from living with your parents to living on your own and trying to juggle a degree but by controlling that side of things and staying at home, I can have more time to focus on my athletics and my recovery.

“I had multiple offers from the United States to go and study over there but I needed consistent training so that I wouldn’t break down and I knew what I’d get in Cardiff.”