Khaddi Sangia, 2022 Muller Indoor GP, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics
Akela Jones, 2022 Muller Indoor GP, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics
Ivana (Spanovic) Vuleta, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics
Women’s long jump
The women’s long jump at the Muller Grand Prix in Birmingham had a distinctively early-season feel to it. There was one interesting innovation with no plasticine in sight with the take-out line protected electronically and athletes waiting anxiously for the green light which indicates a legal jump. The format for the 8 athletes was a guaranteed 5 jumps followed by an additional jump for the top three. And the winner was the person who jumped furthest in the six jumps – a novel idea but it will never catch on!
Mary Bekh Romanchuk, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics
The first shock was that Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk, silver medallist in the 2019 World Championship and fifth in Tokyo, failed to land a legal jump. The winner was Khaddi Sagnia of Sweden with 6.70. Ironically it was 6.70 in the opening round but with three fouls to follow. The second was Akela Jones of Barbados with 6.52 and Ivana Vuleta (Spanovic) 6.51. Jones and Vuleta were very consistent with, between them, 5 leaps of 6.50-6.52. Spanovic is from Serbia and won the European Indoors in the same arena in which next month’s World Indoors will take place.
The bonus round was an anti-climax with Sagnia unable to better her opening jump and the other two fouling. Sagnia commented: “”This is a good competition for me. I’ve been having issues with my run-up and i’s been small details. But, to me, it means a lot. After the first round, it was all about staying safe and calm. Jumping 6.70m so early on is good and I can now take that with me to the World Championships.”
Jazmin Sawyers, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics
Britain is strong in women’s long jump with three athletes on UKA funding. At the Tokyo Olympics, Jazmin Sawyers was 8th and Abigail Irozuru 11th with Lorraine Ugen failing to reach the final. Then there is Shara Proctor, a World Championship silver medallist and a 7m jumper, who, struggling with injury, has not competed since June 2021.
Abigail Irozuru, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics
In Birmingham, Abigail Irozuru was fourth with 6.41, Lorraine Ugen fifth with 6.38, and Jazmin Sawyers sixth with 6.28. Sawyers had three fouls, Ugen two and Irozuru one. Last year I asked Sawyers to explain why fouls occurred. She told me: “It can be that you didn’t warm up enough and you are warming up into the competition. It can be – and this is often me – that rather than putting my foot straight down onto the board, I’m reaching for it. Especially when I was younger, that was standard for me.
“Round one has been a point of contention for me. I spent a long time fouling. So most of the time in round one I’m nervous about fouling so I have tended to try to get a safe jump in. But talking to my sports psychologist I concluded that a safe jump isn’t worth any more than a foul. It’s not going to help you. But something about having a legal jump calms me and helps me to relax and go for it. I’m trying to have the same mentality that I have in the rest of the competition in round one. But I haven’t yet managed to load up the intensity in round one. I have even played around with taking a full jump in warm-up so that that feels like I have already had my round one jump”.
To put Birmingham in context, the following day in Dusseldorf, Malaika Mihambo registered a 6.96.
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