Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Patience Pays for Jackson
WRITTEN FOR SKYSPORTS (ON AUG 16)
Having spent much of the summer trying to crack the magical two-minute barrier, 800m runner Emma Jackson recently got her wish as well as a spot in the World Championships to boot, writes Nicola Bamford.
The 23-year-old City of Stoke AC athlete is enjoying a stellar outdoor campaign in which she has improved on her 2010 2:00.46 best on three occasions, culminating in her breakthrough 1:59.9 clocking in London earlier this month.
There, at the Aviva British Grand Prix and Diamond League event, Jackson finished a fine fifth in a world-class field and subsequently leapt to third on the British rankings for the season – all pointing towards a promising global debut in a fortnight’s time.
Coached by Alan Morris, Jackson explained:
“I’m over the moon with my season so far - it’s my first year as a full-time athlete and I’m amazed how much difference it has made already.
“I amazed myself in my first race of the season at the end of May (in Holland) when I ran a PB of just over two-minutes,” she continued.
“Since then I’ve just been trying to find good races to get me under that barrier so I had to have a month of training and try and stay patient!
“When the races did come back around in July, I was still left frustrated because I was running really well but in slow, tactical races or I wasn’t quite getting the pacing right.
“However, I know that there is even more to come from Crystal Palace - the first lap was still faster than I would have liked!”
Based in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, the 2007 European junior silver-medallist has additionally sped to 55.3 and 4:12.42 400m and 1500m lifetime bests this summer – the latter an improvement of almost three seconds.
Following UK silver behind 2009 World bronze-medallist Jenny Meadows in the World trials in Birmingham last month, Jackson is enjoying a substantial amount more luck than in her 2010 campaign.
Then, the two-lap specialist missed the championship podium on no less than four occasions - coming fourth each time including at the European Team Championships and the Commonwealth Games in India last October.
Mentored by 2004 double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes, Jackson is determined to continue her run a good form in Daegu, South Korea where the World Championships are held later this month:
“It’s my first senior (international championship) competition so I’m really looking forward to seeing how the top athletes prepare themselves for a major games and I’ll have to see if I can pick up any tips!” she revealed.
“My aim for Daegu is to try and get to the semi-finals at the very least - as long as I run well and do myself justice, then I know I’ll be happy.
“It keeps dawning on me that it’s the World champs, it doesn’t get any harder than this! It’s quite scary but in a really good way.
“I can’t wait to see what I can do against the very best - I’m hoping to go even further under two-minutes out there but I don’t want to focus on the time too much, it’s more important that I race the races sensibly - the time will come if it’s a good race.”
In a hugely competitive event for British women, Jackson is aware of how such strong domestic rivalry could push her to a memorable performance ahead of her bigger goal, the Olympic Games in London next summer:
“In reality, I probably wouldn’t even be going to Daegu if all of our girls were at their best but you have to take the chances you are given and I’m hoping that I can use the Worlds to gain invaluable experience for the future,” she explained.
“2012 is still a massive aim for me - I still need to keep improving if I want to go.
“I think I can get even better with another strong winter under my belt and in the long-term, I hope to make more of an impact at the 1500m – I really hope to make lots of championship finals and be going for medals as I get older.”