14th March 2018
HOWE ON TRACK
2017 went with a bang for Jordan Howe as he won T35 100m silver at the World Para Athletics Championships in London, and the Welshman is fired up and ready to go at the season opener at the WPA Grand Prix in Dubai this week.
The Christian Malcolm-coached athlete burst onto the scene at the London 2012 Paralympics at just 16 years-old, but injuries over the years have threatened to scupper the talented youngster. However, patience, determination and the right support team over the years have meant he never gave up, leading to his breakthrough moment on the world stage last year in the London Stadium.
Howe reflects: “I would call it a breakthrough. 2017 was a massive moment for me. I had changed my coach and changed my environment; I got some really good results and performed at the big major champs which I struggled to do before. I’m hoping I can bring that form into this year once again.”
Setting a lifetime best of 12.52 on his way to the podium last summer, Howe completed a fine turnaround in fortunes after a less than pleasant experience in Rio where he was disqualified in the 100m due to a false start and was seventh in the 200m which he admits was a difficult moment in his career.
“It was difficult; I questioned whether I wanted to carry on. But I had great people around me. They reminded me that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve had injuries that required operations and then I had set-backs in Rio, but you have to come out and prove people wrong. It keeps you mentally strong but the support around me made it ten times easier.”
After Rio, the 22-year-old decided to change his set-up and moved back to Cardiff, leaving his previous training group with a heavy heart, such was the rapport amongst of his support team.
“I started working with Christian which is a great support but I worked with a great coach before, Keith Antoine and had Richard Whitehead as a training partner – Rich always reminded me that I had talent to succeed. I will always remember that and he is still a great support to this day.
“But I knew that I had to get more range to my technique to compete at the top. We all sat down at the start of the year (2017) to see what needed to happen. The physios were great at putting a plan together. It was 50-50 if it would work, but it did and my confidence grew as a result. I became a better athlete every day and my performances showed that.”
Initially a swimmer, Howe quit after falling out of love with that sport. He was fortunate to be spotted by Disability Sport Wales and given the opportunity to try athletics, and it was love at first sight. After dropping out of school at a young age, Howe admits he had a choice of paths to take in life and athletics offered a fantastic opportunity for which he is very grateful for.
“I had the opportunity to go down to Cardiff and compete on the track and I loved it straight away. I knew I was quick but I had never the opportunity to do sports days before that because I had a disability. It was the freedom of getting on the track and enjoying sports with others who had disabilities.”
Not only has it given him opportunities on the track, but the sport has provided Howe with the opportunity to plan towards a future off the track as a coach. Currently undertaking his level one coaching course, the Welshman values the importance in giving back to the sport which has given him so much.
“I had a great opportunity as Christian (Malcolm) was just starting his academy and he asked me to help out so I would go down every Wednesday to help coach the session. But one night he couldn’t take the training group, so he asked me to lead it. It was hard but I was constantly learning. I was also handing back what I didn’t have as a youngster. I wish there had been an academy which I could have gone to at a young age and had someone competing for GB coaching me. I thank Christian for giving me the opportunity.”
Howe is also a regular motivational speaker at schools as he understands the significance of inspiring young people to get involved in sport and be healthy. As is clear, Howe is wise beyond his years.
But in the immediate future, Dubai and the prospect of the European Championships in August – in which he has won four bronze medals at previously – a primarily on his mind. He is keen to add to his tally in Berlin. But this week, he is solely focused on starting his season professionally in Dubai to set him up well for the rest of 2018; already opening with a lifetime best of 27.00 over 200m on Tuesday.
“It is a great chance to get my first run of the year in the bag. I want to go out there and enjoy it and get as close to by PB as possible.”
The WPA Grand Prix in Dubai is underway with daily reports provided on the British Athletics website. Live results will be available here.