We caught up with the talented British long jumper Jazmin Sawyers to talk Olympic dreams, The Voice and chip free nails!
Jazmin Sawyers is a woman of many talents. Not content with being one of Team GB’s rising stars – she is Commonwealth and European long jump silver medallist and came an impressive eighth in Rio – she also has a World Junior bobsleigh gold medal in the trophy cabinet and unexpectedly popped up on The Voice, storming the blind auditions to bag a place on team Will.i.am. Versatility seems an understatement.
Make no mistake though, athletics is Jazmin’s first love while music is a hobby. She made it clear to Will.i.am that athletics came first and I wonder if that affected his decision to send Jazmin home in the battle round. She doesn’t think so and just thoroughly enjoyed the ‘amazing’ experience.
Rather than being a distraction, Jazmin says that music has enhanced her training. “I need something outside of training to engage my brain and music provides that. It’s nice to have on the side but the focus is sport.”
Like most children, Jazmin tried athletics at school aged nine and took to it immediately. At 11 she started training at a club and by 14, she’d competed in her first competition abroad. “I loved it and thought I want more of this.” Incredibly driven, Jazmin persuaded her parents to let her apply for a scholarship to Millfield School in Somerset where the sporting facilities are top notch. They relented. Jazmin boarded from the age of 16 and relished every minute. “I know it doesn’t suit everyone but I loved boarding.”
Millfield gave Jazmin opportunities she wouldn’t have ordinarily had like bobsleigh of all things. It requires the same explosive power and speed as long jump, so she was in her element. Training at a special facility at Bath University as well as Austria, Germany and Latvia to get the necessary experience on ice, it was quite intense for a while, but worth it when she came away from the 2012 Winter Youth Olympics with a gold medal. Post-2012 Jazmin has focused on long jump but would like to revisit bobsleigh at some point in the future.
Training while studying for a law degree at the University of Bristol meant a few sacrifices that she was happy to make. “I didn’t lead a normal uni life. With studying and training there wasn’t a lot of time left for socialising.” Dreaming of Olympic glory since she was a child they were small sacrifices to make.
Jazmin was ‘gutted’ with eighth place in Rio which was her Olympic debut aged 22 and disappointed with her performance at the World Championships in London earlier this year. She competes to win, so anything less than gold isn’t where she wants to be. Her ambitions for Tokyo 2020 are clear. “Gold all the way.” Along the route to Tokyo there are smaller goals and competitions that will reveal any weaknesses that can be ironed out and help her to get faster.
Based in Birmingham with her coach, 2004 Olympic heptathlete Kelly Sotherton, the regime is full-on with Jazmin training six days a week with double sessions twice a week. Jazmin receives Lottery funding, so is able to focus full time, but not everyone is so fortunate. “To fit training around a normal job wouldn’t be possible. Without funding this wouldn’t be an option.”
Jazmin’s jam at competitions is her nails. They are always immaculate which makes her feel ‘sorted and ready.’ She has Olympic rings, Union Jacks, whatever takes her fancy. Today they’re bright red. She’s recently become an ambassador for nail brand Semilac based in Solihull and swears by them. “I reckon they last until the nails grow out. I’ve had these on for five weeks.” There isn’t a chip in sight despite spending a lot of her life in sand as well as weight-lifting and training extensively.
Of Birmingham’s sporting events Jazmin is full of praise. She said: “There’s so much going on. The British Championships are always brilliant plus the best indoor event in the calendar is in Birmingham. Athletes look forward to coming here.”
We’ll be following Jazmin’s journey to Tokyo keenly and willing her to fulfil her gold ambitions.