Lorraine Ugen, Birmingham GP 2022, photo by British Athletics / Getty Images
This is our 3rd preview for the 2022 World Indoor Athletics in Belgrade, written by Stuart Weir (Stuart wrote previews on Jenny Selman and Lorraine Ugen, I did one on Ryan Crouser).
Lorraine Ugen will go into the World Indoors full of confidence as British Champion and winner of the World Indoor Series. She won the 2022 GB Champs with a leap of 6:75. In the Indoor Series she won in Madrid (6.67) and also won the New Balance in New York (6.71) as well as coming fifth in Birmingham.
Lorraine Ugen, Birmingham GP 2019, photo by British Athletics / Getty Images
The GB Champs came a week after that fifth in the same arena, something she acknowledged as British champion: “I feel good. I needed to redeem myself from the Muller Grand Prix performance last week. I know that my runway was dodgy last weekend and this week I completed my jumps well”.
She has a good record indoors, having finished third with 6.93 in the Worlds in Portland 2016, commenting at the time: “My first couple of jumps, I was behind the board so we were trying to find out if I wasn’t running properly, or whether I needed to move it. Eventually, we decided to move it in, and I put one on the board and really put one out there! I remember when I came to my fifth jump the whole arena was excited because Brianne Theisen-Eaton had just won the pentathlon. The crowd was going crazy just when I was about to jump. I was going to ask for a rhythmic clap but then I thought there was no point with all the noise. So I thought, let’s just feed off all this energy. I knew it was a good jump but didn’t realize it was as far as it was. It felt good but everyone was still going crazy. When I saw that it was 6.93, I was so excited that my jumping had come together and that I had been able to produce my best jump at a major championship where it really mattered.
World Indoor Athletics Champs 2016, Portland, Oregon, Ivana Spanovic, Brittney Reese, Lorraine Ugen, photo by World Athletics
Her indoor PR of 6.97 came in the European Indoors in 2017. Where? Belgrade! Her assessment of that performance where she took silver in the European Indoors behind local favorite, Ivana Spanovic who leaped to 7:24, was: “I knew I had to do something more than I’ve done before, so it was nice to come away with a British indoor record and a silver medal. But there’s definitely more in the tank, I think I can get over that seven-meter mark. Just staying confident and healthy; I know I can produce some bigger jumps outdoors. The Serbians were really cheering their athletes.
“Competing against Ivana wasn’t necessarily hard because I knew before I went that she was going to be the local hero. She is a great competitor and I knew that she would be hard to beat but, if anything, that helped me to prepare more and feel that I had to do a bit extra. I knew that if I was going to compete with her I would have to do jump better than anything I had done before. So that pushed to be a little bit more. Women’s long jump and men’s pole vault were going on at the same time and when anyone requested a clap it was crazy loud. So it was certainly nice to have people really appreciating the field events”.
Athletics World Cup 2018 team captains, photo by World Athletics
Lorraine joined the seven-meter club in 2018 at the British Championships. She commented afterward: “I definitely felt like I was in shape. I have been working on building more speed for the runway and I knew the more speed I can get the better I can jump. When I ran a PB yesterday [11.32 for 100m], I knew it gave me an opportunity to PB in the long jump as well”. That was something of a watershed moment for women’s long jump with the biggest field in living memory with five athletes achieving the standard for the European Championship. That all added to the occasion for Lorraine: “I was expecting eventually to jump seven meters but I wasn’t particularly expecting it in that event. But I am very glad that it happened. When I looked at the start list and saw 18 people, I thought ‘Whoa, that is a lot of people. But that was good because some years we haven’t had that many people. We have world-class jumpers but most of the time it was three people chasing three spots so it wasn’t as exciting as the three people were going to get the three spots. This year we had four jumpers with the European qualifying distance and a fifth one got it during the competition. So that made it a bit more exciting to see who would get the first three places. That made it juicier and with people getting PRs we were putting on a good show for the crowd”.
Lorraine also has a Commonwealth Games gold medal – not for the long jump but for the 4 X 100 relay. It happened at short notice in the Games in Gold Coast Australia in 2018 when England found its resources stretched. “The relay meeting was the day before and they were trying to figure out who would run”, she told me. “It was more the relay girls who wanted me to be in the team because the other reserves would be running 4 X 400 so they pushed for me to be in the relay team and I’m glad they put their trust in me. Obviously, we didn’t do any relay practice until we got to the warm-up area. But when we did, they went smoothly. I had run 4 X 100s before at TBU. (Texas Baptist University)”.
She added an interesting point: “People in England are quite shocked because they don’t expect you to be doing more than one event. But if you look outside of the UK, those people like Tianna, Blessing, and Torie Bowie both sprint and long jump. And one thing you need to be a good long jumper is speed on the runway”.
A good performance in the long jump in Belgrade would not only be an achievement in itself. It would also set her up for an outdoor season which could involve three championships.