This was Stuart Weir’s last column on 4 September, and it was about the women’s long jump….
A tale of five (or maybe two) long jumpers.
Britain has five female world class long jumpers. Lorraine Ugen has not jumped outdoor at all in this strange year. Sarah Proctor has struggled to find her form. Katarina Johnson-Thompson was hurdling and high-jumping in Brussels – so then there were two.
Abigail Irozuru, photo by British Athletics
Manchester girl, Abigail Irozuru, who is proving the old saying “become a long jumper and see the world” competing in Germany, Hungary, Finland and Sweden already this year, was delighted that the British championship had finally come to her, when she was defending champion. Jazmin Sawyers, who is from Stoke, not far from Manchester, but currently based in Carolina with Lance Brauman, is also a former champion, having won in 2016. Sawyers incidentally is the only athlete ever to break an interview appointment with me because she had to sing at a function. It was at the Bislett Games in Oslo and Sawyers, who is almost a professional singer, came to me apologetically saying that the event had asked for to sing at the function! Of course, she fulfilled our obligation and gave an excellent interview later.
Jazmin Sawyers, photo by British Athletics
Sawyers led from wire to wire, opening with 6.38 and improving with each of her next four jumps to win with 6.69. Irozuru had a best jump of 6.53 for second place. Sawyers commented: “I am so pleased to have won for the first time in four years. I have been on the podium but not on the top! It is a strange time to take the title with a few athletes not here but the women’s long jump is so strong in this country that you have to be on your top game. There are no giveaways in this event.
“It was a really solid series for me tonight. Three jumps over 6.60 is what I like to see. In the conditions tonight with no crowd and in the cold, I am so happy with that. Every competition has been a learning curve; even more so than usual this year. I felt like there has been some good jumps but I was consistent to a much higher level which I like a lot but I am hoping to squeeze a bit more out this season. I have two more meets (Berlin and Zagreb). I hope for a little bit more and some warmer weather and I’d like to get a PR before the end of the year”.
Irozuru said: “It was not the greatest, my running is really good but the thing I am supposed to do -which is to jump is a little flat. My take off is not the best but I will work on that. Coming back has been a little bit bumpy, I have been jumping consistently around the same mark with a random long jump. I feel like I am capable of longer jumps but, I feel like I am not connecting. I have two or three more events this seasons and hopefully I can build on these. I would like to finish the season with a season best”.