Australian long jumper Mitchell Watt at the Hunter Track Classic (© Getty Images)
It may not have looked anything much, but Mitchell Watt completed his first competition off a full run-up since the London Olympics and is looking forward to the Melbourne World Challenge.
“This week I competed at my state championships. It wasn’t the sort of result I or other people will think much about – 7.72m – but I did six full run-ups (five fouls) and felt good physically. I pulled up well and did another session the morning after.
“Conditions were good. In terms of my body, it was the most comfortable I’ve felt on the runway in more than 12 months. It was good being able to compete with no pressure, and know that I’ve had a pretty good pre-season compared to last year. I’ve been getting more work done. It’s just a confidence thing when you’ve got one competition behind you, and you’ve been training consistently since London.
“My coach, Gary Bourne, and I got what we wanted from it. We both knew I was going to be rusty, and this was evidenced by the five fouls. The plan is to land something better at the Melbourne World Challenge meeting next weekend.
“Melbourne should be a good competition. My teammate Fabrice Lapierre and Olympic gold medallist Greg Rutherford will both be competing. As far as I know we’ve all got one competition under our belt for 2013 so it should be fairly even. Melbourne can sometimes get cold even in April, so we’ll see on the night how far we can go.
“I did one competition off a short run-up in January, but compared to a full run-up it’s chalk and cheese.
“Off a short approach you don’t really do anything except accelerate. You don’t steer into the board; you just accelerate and take-off. But off a full run, you’ve obviously got more speed, and at the start of the season it’s quite hard to control that when you’re not used to it. You lean back a bit and it’s hard to gauge where you’re going to take off, how far from the board, because you haven’t been taking off at that speed for quite a while (in my case since the Olympics).
“The only way to refine that is by competing more, so that’s why I’m looking forward to Melbourne. For me at least, it’s the same issues that need to be addressed at the beginning of each season; the consistency of my run-up and my confidence at the board in dealing with the extra speed.
“We had quite a lot of rain in Queensland early in the year. It rained out quite a few jumps sessions, probably a months’ worth all up. I slip on the board sometimes even in dry conditions, so when it’s raining I tend to work on something else (weights, plyos or running). This has meant that I haven’t done as many jump sessions so far this season as we had planned, but it’s not the end of the world.
“I’m not doing much over Easter, but I am looking forward to watching the Stawell Gift (120m handicapped race), seeing how Aussie Josh Ross goes up against Asafa Powell.
“Obviously, if they both get to the final, you would think Asafa has got the upper hand on speed, but Josh is such a good runner on grass. I think the one-metre handicap Asafa has to give Josh might work out about right given that Josh has pretty much perfected running on grass tracks.
“Beyond that, I’ve finalised my arrangement for the Shanghai IAAF Diamond League meeting. I jumped a personal best at the time there in 2011 (8.44m), which is also a meeting record, so I’m looking forward to going back. Obviously training in Australia means we have to travel a lot more than most athletes. Going to Shanghai is appealing because it’s in the same time zone, and a relatively short flight (eight hours – yes that’s short for us, compared to the 24 it takes for Europe!).
“Next Thursday, it will be five years to the opening of the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. Sally Pearson and I are unveiling the countdown clock on a beach down the coast.
“It still seems a long way away. The Melbourne 2006 Games was a couple of years before I started competing, so having a home competition on the horizon is pretty exciting. People talk about Sydney 2000, and Melbourne 2006, and how good it was. And of course the Commonwealth Games are in a year when there’s no World Championships or Olympics, so that will be my focus for the season.
“I’ll be 29 when the Games come around in 2018, so I‘m sure I’ll still be jumping. It will be weird going for a competition less than an hour from my house, but exciting at same time. It may be the only chance I get to compete for Australia on home soil.
“One recent innovation for me was doing some on-field commentary during the Sydney Track Classic. It was pretty interesting. Obviously I don’t even get to sit in the stands all that often because I’m competing, but being out there in the middle of the track with a microphone is even better than sitting in stands. You’re right there next to the boys doing the Pole Vault or Dani Samuels in the Discus.
“It surprised me how different it was. Everyone should get to watch a Pole Vault from down there. Standing there looking up at 5.60m, 5.70m+, really puts it into perspective. It was pretty cool doing that. I don’t know how they do it.
“Until next time,