By David Watkins
With the last percussive boom of the closing ceremony firework spectacular still ringng in our ears many are already looking forward to the next Olympics. What does that hold for Team GB?
The answer may lie, in part, in the South West. Coach, James Marshall, is moulding the stars of tomorrow through rigorous training regimes, extraordinary focus and meticulous attention to detail. He formed his business, Excelsior, in London in 2002, and specialises in training 13-22 year olds. He liaises with many organisations and schools, and several of his clients have gone on to reach elite sporting success such as Louise Helyer (Fencing- Commonwealth Games silver medallist), Arthur Lanigan O’Keeffe (Modern Pentathlon- Ireland), Judith Hamer (Team GB wheelchair basketball), and Dan James, Robin Williams and Keryn Seal (all Team GB blind football). His skills and techniques are applied to a vast range of athletes and sports all having different requirements. James focuses on developing a system for a more robust athlete, enabling them to train all year round and hopefully ruling out the perennial niggles that are common in the sport. He then proceeds to introduce the sport specific training that can take an athlete’s performance to the next level consistently. He prepared his athletes for the Junior World Championships in Barcelona on 10th – 15th July by these methods, and success was found. These athletes hope to reach Olympic heights one day, and these Championships are an important step.
So, who are these hopefuls? First of all there is 18-year old Jazmin Sawyers. She jumped a personal best distance of 6.67m in the long jump final to claim third place and clung on to her crown as the best under-20 long jumper in the world at the moment. Olympic success remains her ambition for the future, and from what we saw here it may be the near future. This success comes on the back of a third place finish at the UK senior trials. In addition to the long jump, Jazmin also competes in Heptathlon and Bobsleigh. Her speed is her biggest weapon. It is this that allowed her to gain the silver medal in Bobsleigh at the Junior Olympics. Definitely one to watch for the future!
Next we have Hannah Gaunt. She competes in the 800m, 1500m, steeplechase, cross country and Biathlon. At only 15 years of age her accomplishments are staggering. In 2011 she finished second in the National Biathle and qualified for team GB, but was unfortunately unable to participate. Then in 2012 she dominated the Devon County Championships with a triple gold medal performance in the U17 800m, 1500m and 1500m steeplechase. She also became the South West champion for the national schools Biathlon, and finished second at the GB Biathle series. Her immediate aspirations are to claim the Inter Girls Devon Schools Track and Field 1500m title, and qualify for the South West schools and English schools Track and Field Championships. She also hopes to qualify for the World Championship GB Biathle team in November this year to compete in Dubai.
None of James’ athletes were outstanding when they first came to him but his simple approach to training ensures results, and this is what makes them successful:
1- Turn up to training
2- Train when you’re there
In time, the athlete who trains consistently will prevail.
This ideology corroborates notions of hard work and perseverance to the young, impressionable minds he trains. This is a necessary mindset if his athletes are to achieve their dreams.