Jumping for gold

Applied Theatre student Cleo Martin-Evans standing on the podium (centre)

Applied Theatre student and BCU Sport scholar Cleo Martin-Evans recently won her first British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) gold medal in the long jump. The National event was held in the English Institute of Sport (EIS) in Sheffield.

Cleo also won silver in the UK Athletics Indoor Nationals in February.

Cleo spoke to Graduate Communications Assistant Tom Hartley after the BUCS event. Read her take on the gold…

What was your winning jump?

My winning jump came in the 5th round of the finals and was 6.26 metres.

Is this your first gold medal?

Yes, my first BUCS gold! Last year was my first ever BUCS and I didn't manage to place in the indoor, but I brought back a silver medal in the outdoors.

Tell us a little about the venue…

It's a lovely venue with a really nice atmosphere to it. This is my first year really engaging with indoor athletics, so I haven't been to a lot of indoor venues, but of the ones I have, the EIS is my favourite.

How many rounds were there, including the final?

In long jump qualifiers, each athlete is allowed three jumps to reach a standard by which they will automatically qualify for the finals. This year the women's standard was 5.85 meters, which I achieved exactly on my first jump.

Having got the qualifying standard on that first jump, I was able to withdraw from my further two jumps to save my energy for the finals the following day.

In the finals, each athlete is again allowed three jumps, and then the top eight qualify for a further three jumps to continue the competition between the best. So, over the two days, I jumped a total of seven times, once for qualification and six times in the final.

What’s your personal best jump?

6.26 metres – I exactly matched my existing Personal Best (PB). It's tempting to be frustrated about this, when I think that a tiny bit more speed or height, or extra extension at the end of the jump could have meant beating my best rather than equalling it. But I have to remind myself that it is still early in the year, with outdoors not even starting yet, and so much training and competing yet to come. Matching my PB at this early point is exactly where I want to be.

How did it feel to win gold?

I always roll my eyes when people say: “I can't believe it!” because it’s so corny, but that's exactly how I felt! I went into the competition with admittedly low expectations of myself. Having just competed in my first British Championships the weekend before, I felt I was still reeling and recovering from that. I wasn't expecting much more than an opportunity for good fun and to correct the technical mistakes I'd made the week before. But I knew as soon as I landed the winning jump that it was a good one.

It's hard to explain, but sometimes you know from the first stride on the runway that it's going to be special – it all just comes together and feels amazing. I never expected to be coming home with a gold, and above all else it's such a good feeling to have surprised myself.

When is the next event?

Indoor BUCS marks the end of the indoor season for me, so the next event will be outdoor BUCS to kickstart my outdoor season. I'm massively looking forward to the outdoor championships this year, with BCU having a larger team already than last year, and so much talent and support between us. Big things are coming for us!

What’s your next target?

I try not to set myself performance targets or goals, which I'm sure sounds a little pretentious, but every athlete has a different mindset that works for them. I find I am happiest and healthiest in my sport when the goals I set are about training progress and technical improvement, rather than PBs, medals or rank position.

My goals this year are to perfect my running technique for more power off the board and to improve my coordination of movement in my in-air motion to maximise my airtime.

That said, I secretly have my heart set on a cheeky 6.40 metres before the year is out. I'm not sure how realistic it is, but Jazmin Sawyers, the third best British female long jumper of all time, says, “you have to be a little bit delusional to make it big.” She jumps 7 metres, so I'll take her word for it.

More sporting success

In other news, fellow BCU Sport scholars Abigail Guest and Daniel Smyllie have recently enjoyed success.

Cyber Security student Abigal Guest has been selected to the Great Britain Judo Olympic preliminary squad and also recently won the Scottish Open competition. She also won bronze at the most recent BUCS event, while Sports Coaching and Physical Education student Daniel Smyllie has been selected for Scotland Gymnastics.

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