The 28-year-old gambled on changing her technique this winter and it paid off at the European Indoor Champs with an emotional victory with 7.00m
You will struggle to find a more popular gold medallist in Istanbul this weekend than Jazmin Saywers. The 28-year-old long jumper captured the first major senior title of her career at the European Indoor Championships. She did it in style, too, with a British indoor record of 7.00m.
Competing on the final night of the four-day event, the Stoke athlete beat Larissa Iapichino of Italy by three centimetres with Ivana Vuleta of Serbia third with 6.91m and Mailaka Mihambo of Germany fourth with 6.83m.
This was not a soft competition either. Mihambo is the reigning Olympic and world champion; Vuleta is a two-time world indoor and three-time European indoor gold medallist; while Iapichino is the daughter of former English Schools and two-time world champion Fiona May and the 20-year-old jumped an Italian record for silver.
Plus, as Sawyers said in emotional post-event interviews, seven metres is serious long jumping. Indeed, the only Brits who have ever jumped further outdoors are Shara Proctor with 7.07m and Lorraine Ugen with 7.05m.
“Seven metres it the goal for most female long jumpers,” she said. “I’ve been looking for a seven-metre jump for what seems like forever.
“It almost doesn’t quite feel real. I’ve been expecting it for years but just didn’t expect it to happen tonight. It feels like all the belief that I had in myself was justified. I have proved my younger self right. I’m so proud of myself right now.”
So how did she do it? For starters this was a magnificent medal moment waiting to happen. Apart from a brief foray into bobsleigh – plus a singing appearance on The Voice six years ago – Sawyers has been charging down the runway and landing into sand for many years and has turned into one of Britain’s most reliable and consistent elite performers lately.
Last summer she won bronze at the European Championships in Munich. She has also finished eighth at the last two Olympics.
The Aston Moore-coached athlete has also taken apart her technique this winter and tweaked it significantly. “I completely changed it this year. I was having an issue with over-rotation and I’ve been having it for years. And we tried to fix it by having me sort of stop in the air as I take off.
“But that’s so hard and then to pause so instead we added an extra hitch so I’m doing a two-and-a-half hitch which is not a typical technique for women but it turns out it feels a lot more natural than one-and-a-half ever did. I’ve been thinking about it and experimenting with it for a few years but this year we decided to really go for it.”
Just as importantly, she adds: “Things are just good. I’m happy. I’m enjoying training. I’m enjoying my group. I’m having a really nice time. I’ve always said that makes such a difference and it’s working out really well for me.”
Being captain of the British team at these championships helped inspired her to new heights too. And she rose to the occasion magnificently with a victory that coincided with Keely Hodgkinson’s 800m win on the same night.
Sawyers leapt 6.70m in the first round and then 6.76m in the fourth but it was the fifth where she produced the pyrotechnics with a 7.00m mark that seemed to take an age before it flashed up on the board. By the sixth round she had sealed gold and leap out to 6.84m before literally jumping for joy in front of the British fans who had travelled to the Ataköy Athletics Arena to support the team.
“This isn’t the end of it,” she added. “This is just the European Indoor Champs. We’ve got so much more to do in the next couple of years but I’m just going to soak in this for a sec.”
With a new technique and into the summer, what can Sawyers do now with a gentle tailwind? Now that’s an exciting thought.
“I’ve proved my younger self right and I’m so proud.” @JazminSawyers on the greatest moment of her career as she claimed Euro Indoor long jump gold with an astonishing 7.00m jump 🔥
That was a British Indoor Record 🇬🇧
🎙️ @TimAdams76 #Istanbul2023 pic.twitter.com/52D4g9aIuQ
— AW (@AthleticsWeekly) March 5, 2023
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