In an exclusive interview for the Wakefield Express, Wakefield Harriers high jumper Martyn Bernard took time out this week to talk to Great Britain stars Montell Douglas and JJ Jegede ahead of this weekend’s Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix, in Birmingham.
Congratulations to both of you on winning medals at the British Athletics Championships, in Sheffield, last weekend. As a couple how do you find competing together at the same event? Do you feel it helps your performance?
MD: It’s pretty cool, it relaxed me a lot. I gave JJ a cheeky little wink while warming up and it got me ready for the task at hand, it made me feel more at home.
JJ: It lightened the moment, I saw her too and it made things a bit more comfortable and not quite so hostile. I thought, I got my boo over there, it’s just a normal day. When you’re relaxed you perform better, I said ‘let me step up and try and win a medal for her’.
Is that where I’ve been going wrong, not having a girlfriend within athletics?
JJ: I always advise everyone not to have a girlfriend in athletics.
JJ: Hold on, we’re the exception to the rule. Relationships in athletics can be quite stressful. You may not see each other often and everyone likes to talk in athletics but we’re good at separating work from relax time so we’re the exception.
JJ you are currently ranked number 1 in the UK with a season’s best of 7.98m. This weekend you will be up against some of the best in the world in Birmingham, are you looking forward to the challenge?
JJ: I need good competition. Sheffield felt like a training competition. To jump 8 metres indoors is world class, the high level of competition will spur me on. I want to try and beat my PB which is 8.04m indoors. So this weekend if, no when I get a PB I’ll be happy.
You’ve missed a lot of time through injury Montell, how do you manage the difficult journey back to full fitness and record-breaking times?
MD: I think about the positive times. That’s what drags me along. I keep in mind where I have made progressions and that the journey is not finished. I’m fitter, stronger and I still want more. If I didn’t think there was anything left I would call it a day. When you have been blessed with talent it can’t be taken away so you’d better use it, otherwise you loose it and it goes to waste.
l Montell Douglas and JJ Jegede will be competing in the Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix from 2pm on Saturday, February 15.
To read more of Martyn Bernard’s exclusive interview, read tomorrow’s Wakefield Express.