My son has been counting down the weeks and days for lockdown to be lifted, so that he can compete in long jump again. His first competition of the season was at Birmingham University, on the same day as his driving test. Possibly doing your first athletics competition of the season on the day of your driving test isn’t the best idea.
I wasn’t able to go along because of lockdown rules. The rules at that time were no spectators and only one parent and/ or one coach per athlete under 18. For the first time ever, my son’s coach went along, as well as my husband.
The age group was seniors and under 20s (my son’s age category). The other athletes were some of the best university athletes, not just from Birmingham, who could all jump well over 7 metres.
My son’s first jump was 6.41, which he was a bit disappointed about. After that, it didn’t get better, it got worse. He got 6.18, then he got below 6 metres.
He was feeling tired and just didn’t have the energy to jump. He’d put a lot of thought into his food and had prepared himself a high protein meal. But he probably ate it too early. Or he didn’t make enough of it. We’d talked about him eating a banana just before the competition. He’d forgotten to take one with him. He had no spare snacks or drinks to give him the energy boost he so desperately needed.
He decided to miss a jump. Then he got two no-jumps. My son never gets no-jumps.
As his coach said, he’d probably underestimated how tiring it was doing a driving test.
His next competition was four days later and much closer to home. It was a competition in which he’d come second in both 2018 and 2019. He was very keen to win it this year.
There were no elite 7 metre plus athletes, but there were some pretty good ones. From where I was standing, their jumps looked massive. But they were scraping 6 metres.
My son’s first jump really did look massive.
It was 6.39. Less than his first jump the other day. Even though he’d had enough to eat.
His next jump was 6.41. He was winning, but it wasn’t the distance he was looking for.
I started to worry for him that maybe he’d lost his ability after so long without being able to train properly in lockdown. I knew for a fact he would be worrying. He puts so much work and thought into his training.
On this third jump, he did it – 6 metres 75.
12cm more than his PB and 5cm over the qualifying standard for the English Schools national competition. (Although to be sure of competing in that he also needs to be in the top 16 in his age category.)
My son was absolutely buzzing with his jump and we were buzzing for him. He’s got lots more competitions coming up over the next few weeks and will be pushing ever closer to the elusive 7 metres.