A change is as good as a rest, by J. Stuart Weir


shara1.jpgShara Proctor and her new friend, photo by Stuart Weir

In 2014, I was traveling around Europe as an athletic pilgrim. I followed Ashton Eaton to most of his 400 meter hurdle races, as he had taken a year off from the decathlon. I was there when he ran a fine PB and run in Glasgow. Speaking to Ashton afterwards, he told me that he was refreshed focusing on the new discipline and that, in the end, "it was all about 2016."

Stu Weir is our Scottish athletic pilgrim, traveling around the globe for a good race, or, an unusual story. Here is his piece on Shara Proctor, a fine long jumper, who, in Lille, took a chance and tried another event, the triple jump.

A change is as good as a rest

DSCN0153.JPGShara Proctor, a triple jumper for the day, photo by Stuart Weir

At the Doha diamond league press conference, five athletes were asked: if the IAAF made a rule that athletes had to compete in an event other than their own, what would they choose.

American triple jumper, Christian Taylor, said: "that is a no-brainer for me, the 400 metres", an event in which Taylor has represented USA in the World Relays. He added that it was a serious ambition to compete in the 400 or 400 relay in a major championship.

And the question was equally easy for Dutch, former heptathlete, Dafne Schippers, who nominated the long jump. German javelin thrower, Thomas Rohler, said he fancied the triple jump. US shot putter, Michelle Carter said she would do the discus, having thrown discus as well as shot in college. Jamaican sprinter, Elaine Thompson, said she couldn't think of anything as she hated running further than the 200 metres.

At the European Team Championships last week end, Shara Proctor put words into action by competing in the triple-jump, not the long jump. Proctor who jumped over seven metres twice at the 2015 World Championship to take the silver medal. While she led until the final round when she was overtaken by Tianna Bartoletta, Proctor still saw it as a success not a failure: "I really wanted to be on the podium and I wanted to jump 7 metres - so I got what I wanted, she said afterwards.

In 2009 and 2010, Proctor competed in triple jump seven times including the NCAA Championships and the SEC Outdoor Championships. She competed once indoor in 2012 but then not for the next five years - until the Bryan Clay Invitational at Azusa in April this year, where she jumped 13.82. As Proctor trains in Netherlands with Christian Taylor, she is not short of expert advice.

On Sunday she jumped 13.39 for ninth place, saying afterwards: "I had a lot of fun. I'm not happy with the result but I'm very happy that I was able to gain this experience and gain this exposure. I don't feel I'm defeated, I'm just happy that I was able to showcase a little triple jump talent. This is a building process and I'll be back.

" I love triple jump and I enjoy training for it. It's fun and a mental break from the long jump so I thought I have the talent and the ability to jump far in the triple jump so why not try it. I don't want to leave the sport without trying so I'm just trying again and testing it out. I came here with zero expectations, I felt like a fish out of water. I was just looking around and thought to myself 'I don't know anybody here'. This was very different but I enjoyed it very much".

Hats off to an athlete stepped out of her comfort zone and competed in a different event and still had fun!

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