LEAP OF FAITH

JAZMIN SAWYERS ON HER STATE­SIDE SWITCH AND HER AD­VICE FOR OTH­ERS CON­SID­ER­ING A MOVE

Athletics Weekly - - The Big Feature - PIC­TURES: GETTY IM­AGES FOR THE IAAF & MARK SHEARMAN

LONG JUMPER Jazmin Sawyers knew she could im­prove, so she moved to Amer­ica, worked hard and was re­warded with a 6.86m PB. Here the 2016 Euro­pean sil­ver medal­list shares some in­sight into her coach­ing switch, US life and how it’s not all sun­shine and beaches in Flor­ida. I MOVED out to Cler­mont in Flor­ida in Oc­to­ber last year. We’re about 40 min­utes out­side of Or­lando so every­one thinks ‘Dis­ney’ but I haven’t been once!

I think every­one’s minds im­me­di­ately jump to ‘oh cool, you’re ba­si­cally on hol­i­day’ but I can as­sure that we’re not!

I made the de­ci­sion to come out here be­cause, at the end of 2017, I was look­ing for a coach who would pri­mar­ily im­prove my speed but would also have jumps ex­per­tise and every­one was point­ing me to­wards Lance Brau­man.

He runs a sprint group and it in­cludes – cur­rently and his­tor­i­cally – some of the fastest peo­ple in the world so I thought there was no bet­ter place to go and get fast.

It’s an adi­das-spon­sored group and I was al­ready with adi­das. We don’t re­ally have that in the UK where your group de­pends on your spon­sor but it’s fairly com­mon over here.

The group in­cludes ath­letes such as Shau­nae Miller-Uibo, Noah Lyles, Tyson Gay, Matt Hud­son-Smith and Netha­neel Mitchell-Blake.

Be­cause he has coached so many re­ally fast peo­ple, I was ex­pect­ing Lance to be re­ally harsh and mean, but he’s not. He likes you to get on with ev­ery­thing you’re sup­posed to be do­ing but his whole ethos is that you’re sup­posed to en­joy it.

Yes, this is your job, but you’re sup­posed to be hav­ing a good time be­cause a big part of suc­ceed­ing is to be happy.

Lance used to coach jumps a lot more. At the mo­ment I’m the only jumper in the group but he has a his­tory and back­ground in jumps so it seemed like the per­fect place.

First steps

For me, the move wasn’t about life ex­pe­ri­ence, it was about the group and the coach­ing. It’s not that we don’t have good coaches in the UK, it’s that there’s just many more op­tions abroad.

I miss home so much and I didn’t think I would be­cause I en­joy trav­el­ling around and do­ing dif­fer­ent things but, be­ing over here, I ac­tu­ally found it re­ally hard.

Last year I tried to come back to the UK as much as pos­si­ble but this year I’m en­joy­ing it a lot more and now I know the train­ing works, be­cause I had a good sea­son last year.

I’ll be back home for Christ­mas and I’m hop­ing I’ll be home for the in­door sea­son, too. I won’t be based here for the whole year be­cause we’re in Europe for much of the sum­mer and the group bases it­self out of Am­s­ter­dam.

The group en­vi­ron­ment is so in­cred­i­bly valu­able. You raise your game be­cause that’s what every­one else is do­ing. Lance ex­pects a lot of ev­ery­body, as he should be­cause it’s a re­ally high-qual­ity group. I feel re­ally lucky to be a part of it.

See­ing suc­cess

Be­cause I did find it so hard over the win­ter, com­pet­ing re­ally well dur­ing the sum­mer just felt so in­cred­i­bly good!

It showed that it was all worth it and proved that it re­ally works and there’s a point to me be­ing out here.

Home com­forts

The weather is great, the group is re­ally nice and it’s ex­cit­ing to be some­where dif­fer­ent, but it’s dif­fi­cult and the dif­fer­ence in cul­ture is so much more than I think you’d ex­pect. It’s small things like hu­mour – you’ll crack a joke and no one un­der­stands!

There’s ba­si­cally no pub­lic trans­port, so if you want to have any kind of life out­side of ath­let­ics you need a car to be able to get around. I didn’t have a car last year so I would just go to train­ing and then go home and think about train­ing, be­cause there was noth­ing else to do.

It’s hard to es­tab­lish any kind of com­mu­nity feel out­side of train­ing. That was a bit over­whelm­ing, es­pe­cially as I’m some­body that likes to split my life up and not be con­sumed by ath­let­ics. It can be hard feel­ing like my only life here is to do with the sport.

A typ­i­cal day

I get up early be­cause most of my mates are at home and they are done talk­ing to me by 5pm! So I go to bed around 9.30pm and wake up about 5.45am most days. I gen­er­ally do some kind of yoga in the morn­ing be­fore train­ing, even if it’s just a re­ally light stretch out. I feel bet­ter for it.

I’ll then mill around and read or sort out any ad­min and emails that I need to do be­fore break­fast and train­ing, which starts at 9am.

At the track we’ll warm up in­di­vid­u­ally for about 40 min­utes be­fore a group warm-up with drills and mo­bil­ity work. We’ll do that ev­ery train­ing day un­til about 10.15am.

Then what­ever the run­ning work­out is for the day will start. At this time of year it’s of­ten some kind of grass run­ning.

There’s around 26 of us at the

mo­ment, so it’s a big group, led by Lance and three as­sis­tant coaches. The group will split into two – the 100m and 200m group, which I slot into, and the 400m group.

When we’re done with that we head to the gym. Some will take 20 min­utes to have a pro­tein bar or a shake, some­thing to re­fuel if they need it, and some will get straight on with the gym, which is a full work­out with a dif­fer­ent fo­cus each day. We’ll work lower body twice a week, up­per body once a week, full body once a week and then we have two lighter ses­sions as well.

Ev­ery ses­sion in the gym will in­clude a warm-up, a main strength sec­tion, a con­di­tion­ing sec­tion and a core sec­tion.

Train­ing will fin­ish around lunchtime and then I’ll head home to do some re­cov­ery, which could be more stretches, ice or the pool.

The rest of the day is ours.

I’ve found at this time of year I don’t have that much en­ergy to do much else! So it will gen­er­ally be a nap and then I hang out – I’ve got a gui­tar and ukulele here so I’ll write and sing, I read a lot, and this year the dif­fer­ence is that I have friends to spend time with! I’ll cook din­ner around 5pm or 6pm and then chill and go to bed early.

It’s not a ter­ri­bly ex­cit­ing ex­is­tence – it’s not the Dis­ney, beaches, Flor­ida, Mi­ami thing that peo­ple think.

Money mat­ters

It can be ex­pen­sive liv­ing out here. I am very lucky to be on Lot­tery fund­ing on the World Class Pro­gramme and that goes on my coach­ing out here.

Some of the money for liv­ing costs comes from my adi­das con­tract and I’m lucky to have been sup­ported by them for years now.

How­ever, that is very de­pen­dent on how the sea­son goes so I try and di­ver­sify my in­come.

As an ath­lete, you never know if you’re go­ing to get in­jured and if that hap­pens then all of a sud­den the in­come stops if ev­ery bit of your money is com­ing from track.

So I’ll also speak on pan­els, some of my mu­sic stuff pays and in a very mi­nor way I’ve also started selling lit­tle pin badges. I think more ath­letes should do stuff like that be­cause it’s re­ally hard for fans to find a phys­i­cal way to sup­port ath­letes.

A foot­ball fan can go out and buy their favourite foot­baller’s shirt with their name on the back but where can an ath­let­ics fan go and show that they are a fan of, say, Matt Hud­sonSmith?

I’m lucky that I don’t have to have a full-time job like some ath­letes do but I’m try­ing to make money in more ways than just com­pe­ti­tions. I’m sup­ported in the UK by Re­alis Es­tates and have been so grate­ful for their sup­port.

My ad­vice be­fore a move

Make sure you have a solid sup­port sys­tem back home that’s ready to be there for you. When I moved, my train­ing group were re­ally nice but a lot of them al­ready knew each other and they would do things that needed cars which I didn’t have at that time. I re­ally leaned on my friends back home – I needed them.

In terms of train­ing, you come out to a place like this ex­pect­ing to work hard. If you’re brave enough to be mak­ing a move that big, you’re will­ing to do dif­fi­cult things.

A re­ally big thing is to dive in head first and have faith in the pro­gramme that you’re work­ing with. Ab­so­lutely trust it and be­lieve that it’s go­ing to work, be­cause that’s half the bat­tle.

You’re the one that has got to com­pete. If you’re there the whole time think­ing ‘this isn’t right, this isn’t go­ing to work’, that’s what your body is go­ing to give you.

When I got to the stage where I re­ally com­mit­ted to it, I saw re­sults.

Jazmin Sawyers is on Twit­ter and In­sta­gram at @JazminSawyers. Her pin shop is avail­able at sawyersstu­dio.big­car­tel.com and due to be up­dated soon

Sawyers was speak­ing with Jes­sica Whit­ting­ton

“IN TERMS OF TRAIN­ING, YOU COME OUT TO A PLACE LIKE THIS EX­PECT­ING TO WORK HARD. IF YOU’RE BRAVE ENOUGH TO BE MAK­ING A MOVE THAT BIG, YOU’RE WILL­ING TO DO DIF­FI­CULT THINGS” JAZMIN SAWYERS

On song: Sawyers ap­peared on TV show The Voice in 2017 and en­joys writ­ing and singing in her spare time

Long leap: in 2018 Jazmin Sawyers has im­proved herPB to 6.86m to move to sixth on the UK all-time list

Awards time: Jazmin Sawyers in­ter­views Euro­pean ath­lete of the year, Dina Asher-Smith

Mak­ing strides: Sawyers is coached by LanceBrau­man in Flor­ida

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