Jazmin Sawyers is one of the top British women long jumpers. A talented athlete, who represented Team GBR in the 2021 Youth Winter Games in the bobsleigh, Sawyers has won two silver medals, one in the 2014 Commonwealth Games and one in the 2016 European Games.
Her focus now is the long jump. She is coached by Lance Brauman.
This piece, by Stuart Weir, is a reflection by Jazmin Sawyers on her 2021 season…
Jazmin Sawyers-refect on 2021…
I like to tell the story of how Jazmin Sawyers is the only athlete who has ever cancelled an interview appointment with me because she had been asked to sing at a function! It was at the Bislett Games in Oslo and she did the interview next year.
2021 was a good year for Jazmin. She jumped a PR and reached the Olympic final and the Diamond League final. She was please but at the same time, she wanted more.
Getting to the Olympics was not straight-forward: “I’ve been looking for 6.82 [the Olympic standard] or above for months. I had a windy 6.82. I’d had several 6.70s so I was there or thereabouts. I just wasn’t getting it quite right but the week before I had my last competition of the year in America and with my flight home booked, I jumped terribly. But Jeremy Fisher, Brittney Reese’s coach, let me stay another week so that I could train and try again for the standard. I don’t know whether it was the last chance thing. It finally came together. Chula Vista is a great track to jump on and the weather was perfect and I jumped 6.90. I was so relieved but I felt it had been coming all season”.
In Tokyo she qualified for the final with a 6.62 then jumped 6.80 in the final for eighth place. Her reaction: “Mixed. I did well, good jumps. But I did not do all the bits of the jumps right. Even my 6.80, when I watch it back, there are so many things that I would like to correct and I think if I had corrected those things, I could have got into the medals – because the competition was so tight from first to eighth, it felt like I had missed an opportunity. People might say eighth in the Olympic final is good but I was eighth in Rio, I’ve done that. I wanted to progress. I wanted a PR in the Olympic final and I didn’t do that. So I was disappointed. Even though I can look at it and think ‘yes I did well’, I really wanted more. I was there for a medal and I didn’t get close”.
Tokyo was an unusual Olympics with so many restrictions and no spectators. How did she find it? “Strange. That village was OK because it felt fairly normal. And you don’t do much other than train, eat and sleep anyway once you’re in the village. But the holding camp being so restrictive because of Covid, meant that it didn’t really feel like a games experience. In the village the only real differences when wearing masks all the time and taking a test every morning. But as well there was no mixing and no meeting people from different sports because you’re scared they will give you a Covid or even that you will be pinged [and have to isolate] but ultimately you’re there to do a job. But having been to the Olympics before and part of the experiences coming away having made friends. You fly home with the whole team and it feels like an experience. This time it was get out of the country as quickly as possible! We don’t really want you here; get out as quickly as you can. I still had a good time but it was strange. It wasn’t to call relaxing because you felt it anytime you could be asked to leave through no fault of your own”.
To understand where she is in 2021, you need to go back to 2017, when Jazmin took the big decision to re-locate to America to be coached by Lance Brauman. ‘Re-locate’ is perhaps the wrong word as she explains: “I don’t think of it as living in America. I go there for 3-4 months a year. I would typically go to America November to Christmas and then be back in Europe for indoors. Then I would go back to American for the first two months of the outdoor season but then again most of the outdoor events are in Europe”.
In 2017 she reached a point where she felt that she needed to make a change in her coaching set-up. Her self-analysis was that her take-off was good and her jumping was good but speed on the runway was her weakness. Several people said to her “if you want someone with the jumps background who will make you faster, Lance Brauman is the man”. Working with Lance involved re-locating to USA but Jazmin was determined: “I wanted to do whatever would make me jump better”. She is now part of a big training group working a lot with the sprinters like Gina LÃ¼ckenkemper, Kelly-Ann Baptiste, sometimes Noah Lyles, Kimberley Williams and even with decathlete Maicel Uibo.
Moving to USA was required something of an adjustment: “I expected America to be like home but with sun! It is nothing like home. You can’t walk anywhere. You need a car and in my first year I could not afford a car. So it was very much get a ride to and from training and then sit in the apartment until training next day. I am very sociable, but in America I found it hard to make friends. People generally wanted to do their own thing after training. I have become friends with Gina and having a friend in the group has improved my experience tenfold. I am not in America long enough to be worth buying a car, so I rent but before I was 25 I had to pay an excess young driver fee”.
The progress she has made was recognized this week when he was added to the British Athletics Podium funding list!