Commonwealth Games silver medallist Jazmin Sawyers is a woman of many talents, with multiple strings to her bow – from bobsleigh to long jump, singing and studying – somewhere in the middle of it all, recently graduating with a 2:1 in Law at the University of Bath.
At only 22, her list of achievements is impressive. The 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games saw a junior Sawyers kickstart her international career in style to bring home two gold medals for the long jump and 4x100m relay.
Since then she’s won a string of bling for bobsleigh and long jump, competing at the World Junior Championships, Commonwealth Games and recently the European Championships.
With less than one year to go until the Bahamas 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games (click here if you missed it), we asked Jazmin what it meant to cut her teeth at the 2011 Youth Games, and how it’s set her up for senior competitions.
“It’s so valuable and I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to do it. All of the Championship experience that I had as a junior has been so valuable to me as a senior athlete.[The Commonwealth Youth Games] was my first real experience of a proper international competition environment, a multi-sport event, getting to watch other sports, and being together in a team environment with people other than in athletics.That can throw you off a bit, and the fact that I was able to experience that as a 17-year-old meant that I was so much better prepared for the senior events when they came around.”
From junior athlete to senior star
Jazmin’s first senior medal came at Glasgow 2014, when she jumped a season’s best of 6.54m, just two centimetres behind winner Ese Burne. It was then that she realised she was more than “just a youth athlete”.
“I was really shocked, and proud. It gave me so much confidence that I wasn’t just a youth athlete – that I can really get up and compete with these girls, and be one of the best.The UK crowd [at Glasgow] was so supportive, it made me feel like I really belonged there. When I first got selected for the Commonwealth Games I felt like an outsider, I was thinking ‘are you sure you’ve got it right? I’m just a youth athlete, I’m just a junior, I’m just a kid.’ When I came home with that medal made me feel like I really belonged there.Young athletes going to the youth games should trust that they belong there as well because they wouldn’t have been selected for the youth games otherwise.”
As the years have gone on it’s become clear that Jazmin has what it takes to compete at senior level. And she’s got some advice for young up and coming athletes to never lose touch with what’s achievable.
“It’s very easy to see yourself so far removed from the people at the leading senior events when you’re a youth.There are definite parallels to making youth teams and making the senior teams, as long as you keep up training and stay focused – it’s a pathway.”
Playing it cool - how to stay focused
The pressure of big events can get too much for some athletes, but not for Jazmin. She knows how to stay focused and reach her goals:
“Whatever event it is, you just have to take a step back and think ‘this is long jump, I’ve done this before'. Occasionally I have to stop thinking about the event, stop thinking about distances and just focus on the process.
In training, consistency is a big one. What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.
Have a look at every area in your life and think ‘what can I be doing a little bit better every day’, because you’ll see the bigger differences in that than the changes you make and can’t keep up.
Make sure you’re into something that you want to be in, make sure you’re enjoying it. I’ve seen the greatest leaps and bounds, and improvements in my performance when I’m having the best time in training.
Yeah it’s hard work, but you’re supposed to enjoy it – you’re supposed to be doing something you love and when it comes down to the fractions of the second and the centimetres and tiny margins that can be about making a team or not making a team, you’ve got to be doing something you love or it’s going to hard to give everything you have to give to get there.”
Well it seems like Jazmin’s got it all worked out.
From all here at Team England, good luck and see you in the Gold Coast!