Day #5: Tales of a Teenage Triple Jumper

High school stories revisited…

I used to do athletics in secondary school.

I was too short to be a hurdler, too slow to be a sprinter and too light to be a thrower.

As a result, I took up triple jump.

Commonly known as the ‘hop, skip, jump’ the triple jump was made famous by Jonathan Edwards: the first man ever to jump over the 18 metre barrier and what’s more, he’s white.

When I started in fourth (sophomore) year we had workout programs to do two/three times a week.

We also jumped on a Saturday morning. Below is a video of just that. I always wanted to assess my technique.

The months went by and all of a sudden, the West Leinster’s were upon us. This is the first regional athletics competition of the year.

Not many people take part in Triple Jump. For most schools it’s an after thought. They throw in anyone who can jump or is tall, and he’ll probably qualify.

Myself and my friend were the only ones to train for it. As a result, we both qualified comfortably for the next round.

The Leinsters took place two weeks later. I then proceeded to qualify for the All-Ireland Schools competition.

Since I hadn’t properly done the sport before, I was making significant improvements each week. By the time the final event of the year rolled around, I was reaching the peak of my powers.

I jumped six times and placed fourth. Not a bad result for my first year in Triple Jump.

The following September I started training again, but things were a little different.

I had engrained a certain way of jumping from the previous months training.

I got coaching to re-learn better habits, which helped with my technique and ultimately how far I could jump.

But I got bought into the fallacy that just because I did well the first time, I could do even better the second.

Success in the triple jump, like in any sport, is about doing the basics really well: Running fast, retaining momentum and landing well between the phases.

I hadn’t nailed these down really well, and as a consequence my results plateaued.

I placed fourth again that year, but with a distance 40 centimetres less than the summer before.

In sixth year athletics bored me, and so I stopped.

What lessons did I take?

Most of our problems lie in not doing the basics well. Focus on those first, before worrying about little technicalities.

This is the day #5 of my 100 day blog challenge. If you want to join me on my journey, click the ‘follow’ button below :)

See you tomorrow,

Thomas