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Post People: Former Barking pupil’s long-jumping legacy

PUBLISHED: 11:00 07 January 2017

JJ Jegede in action in the Men's long jump during the Aviva World Trials and UK Championships at the English Institute of Sport, Sheffield.

JJ Jegede in action in the Men's long jump during the Aviva World Trials and UK Championships at the English Institute of Sport, Sheffield.

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Long-jumper JJ Jegede, 31, tells Sebastian Murphy-Bates how he went from Barking Abbey School to the top four at the European championships

“Being at a specialist sports college taught me a lot about working toward goals. I played football, rugby and hockey but I wasn’t a fan of athletics – I thought it was

boring.

“Then I entered a competition at Mayesbrook Park, Dagenham, in 2002 and I won a silver medal for a 5.88-metre long jump, despite never doing it before. After that I

joined the Newham and Essex Beagles and by 2005 I was jumping up to 7.24 metres and won a sports scholarship to Loughborough University.

“After studying banking, I was offered a job at HSBC in Canary Wharf in 2008, but I wanted to be a full-time athlete – I’d come 13th in the under-23 European athletic championships in Hungary the year before.

“I was fortunate enough to join the Met Track scheme, which is run by a former superintendent who helps young offenders get into sports. Becoming a coach there was very rewarding and helping those kids made me realise that’s what I want to do so I set up my own business, Olympic Heroes, which I used as a platform to mentor kids in Barking and Dagenham schools.

“In 2012, I narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Olympic Games after coming fourth in the European long-jumping championships. At the time I was working for Sky Sports and I ended up doing the commentary for every jump – that wasn’t brilliant. It was painful because I’d beaten about 75 per cent of the people I was watching in other competitions throughout the

year.

“I stuck at it and finished seventh at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014. But rupturing my ligament in 2015 put me out of action for a year because I had to have surgery and switch my “take-off” leg.

“I managed to recover and become Britain’s second-best long-jumper but I realised that I’d dedicated my whole life to sport and didn’t feel I’d spent enough time with my

family so right now I’m focusing on looking after my mum in

Nigeria.”

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