After opening her season with a bang, Sheffield University long-jumper Jazmin Sawyers is determined to prove she belongs with the world’s elite on a permanent basis from here on out.
Sawyers burst into the nation’s conscious last summer as she jumped 6.54m to claim silver at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
That was Sawyers’ maiden major senior international competition and with the European indoor championships in Prague coming up next month, not to mention the World Championships in Beijing this summer, the 20-year-old wants to make sure it is the first of many.
Sawyers got her 2015 campaign underway in some style at the end of last month as she returned to north of the border and jumped an indoor personal best of 6.45m to finish third in the Sainsbury’s Glasgow International Match.
And she insists she is only getting started as she bids to prove that she belongs on the biggest stages of all this year.
“I was really pleased with how my season opener went,” she said. “People sometimes ask me why I don’t jump more but I think I have found the perfect balance and I think you could see that there.
“I will now lock myself away in training and will come back in three weeks time for the British Indoor Nationals which is a really important competition because my first goal this season is to get to the European Indoors.
“Having been to the Commonwealth Games and climbed that podium and seen the flag up there, nothing beats it and I want to make sure I never miss out on another big competition now.
“I don’t feel like a kid anymore, I don’t want to use the fact that I am young as an excuse, I really want to step up to the next level and do so consistently.
“After the European Indoors there are the World Championships and I am determined to make it there and really have a big year off the back of last summer.
“I feel like I am one of those who gets better as the season gets going so to start how I did in Glasgow was great and I can’t wait to see what I do now at the nationals.”
Although Sawyers is keen to leave her junior years behind her, one memory from those days that is still fresh in her mind is that of the Sainsbury’s School Games.
In addition to being the Major Event Series partner of British Athletics, Sainsbury’s sponsors the Sainsbury’s Schools Games, which sees millions of school children take part in competitive sport each year, with 1,600 young elite athletes competing annually in a high level multi-sport event.
Sawyers won 80m silver and high jump bronze at the 2009 edition in Cardiff and she insists these early experiences of a multi-sport event started her on the path to the Commonwealth Games podium.
“I loved the School Games and my main memory is just how much fun I had and how great it was to mix with other athletes from all over the place and also from different sports,” she added.
“I think it is such a great competition and it really is important to an athlete’s progression as where else do you get that kind of experience at that age.
“It definitely did help me when I went to the Commonwealth Games and my advice for those doing it this year is to relax and enjoy it because that is when the results come and you never know where it will take you.”
* Sainsbury’s is a proud partner of British Athletics. The partnership reflects Sainsbury’s wider commitment to inspiring healthy lifestyles for all, and complements grassroots campaigns such as Active Kids and the Sainsbury’s School Games. www.sainsburys.co.uk