Interview with British Champion Laura Samuel

This Wednesday, 6th July, the 23rd European Outdoor Athletics Championships begin in Amsterdam, Holland, and representing Great Britain in the Women’s Triple Jump will be Laura Samuel of Birchfield Harriers. Following silver medal success at the World Junior Championships in 2010 where she set the British Junior Record of 13.75m, 25 year old Laura has dominated British Triple Jumping in recent years and last week at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham, won the National Outdoor Championships for the 5th time. Her winning leap of 14.09m equalled her PB set when taking 2nd place at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and was just 6cm shy of the Olympic Qualifying Standard. Laura produced more than one marginal No Jump in her series well in excess of the Qualifying Standard, incuding this last round leap:

Following her victory at the British Championships Laura spoke to about her Triple Jump career so far and her aims for the future.

iTJ: How did you first get into athletics and when did you realise you had a talent for the Triple Jump?
LS: I first got involved in athletics when I was at the age of 9 through someone coming into my primary school doing general athletics sessions with everyone. I was told I was talented and to go along to my local running club. My mum jumped at the chance of getting me involved in sport as she was a GB gymnast in her younger days. I started off as a sprinter up until I was around 16. Moving onto the Long Jump as I was always prancing around and quite bouncy. One day there was no-one to fill for the Triple Jump at a league match, so I jumped to get points for my club. That day I qualified for the Nationals so I gave it go and I haven’t looked back.

iTJ: Which Triple Jump Legends inspired you when you were young and which jumpers and coaches do you admire today?
LS: It’s quite weird really because I’m not really one to sit back and watch athletics, I would rather get involved. I feel that growing up the athlete that inspired me was Kelly Holmes. Moving onto today’s athletes, people such as Jess Ennis and Mo Farah are a big inspiration to me. My coach Aston Moore is a great coach, working with him I have learnt so much and he has definitely taken me to the next step in my career. Coaching people such as Ashia Hansen and Phillips Idowu in the past shows he definitely knows his stuff 🙂

iTJ: What’s been the worst injury you have suffered in your career and what tips can you give for avoiding injuries?
LS: Being a Triple Jumper you can imagine it’s tough on your body and injury is very common. For some reason I have one of these bodies that copes with the event well (so far). I’ve never really been seriously injured through competition or training. On the other hand, I am a very clumsy person and will often bump into things etc. Last year walking down steps I broke my foot which meant I had a season off. I’m not complaining though as it was good to be a normal person for a few months and I am back into shape with no niggles now.

iTJ: What are your favourite and least favourite training drills?
LS: When coach says it’s plyometrics I’m happy. Any form of jumping onto boxes, bounds, hurdle jumps or anything bouncy I love to get involved. When coach says we have fitness/running I will try and get out of it in any way shape or form, but it never works. I’m just not the best at running over anything above 200m. I get it done though, whether I’m moaning throughout the session or not, and it definitely helps towards jumping far.

iTJ: Can you give me an idea of your usual daily meal plan?
LS: Nutrition isn’t my strongest point. I have a sweet tooth and I love my food. Being organised is key. I don’t necessarily have a daily meal plan but  knowing what to eat and when is what I try to stick to.

iTJ: From the mental preparation at the end of the runway to the moment you land into the pit, what are you focusing on during a competitive Triple Jump?
LS: At the beginning of the runway I try and focus on what I am there to do – Jump Far! I have a lot of problems with my runways which me and coach are working on. Whether it’s a No Jump or not I go for it. As soon as I take my first step down the runway all technical points go out the window and I am just there to compete. Sometimes if you think too technical it can mess up your whole rhythm.

iTJ: What do you consider to be the highlight of your career so far?
LS: The highlight of my career has to be the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. I had never been over 14m before and I wasn’t actually sure if I was capable of doing it. When I got out of the pit after jumping 14.09m I was shocked that 14m was next to my name on the scoreboard. That day gave me so much confidence going into other competitions. It made me believe in myself and I think that is one of the main things it takes to be a great athlete. Achieving a silver medal was great and it makes you more determined for the future.

iTJ: What are your aims for Amsterdam next week, the rest of this year and the future in the Triple Jump?
LS: As you can probably see I am struggling to get the standard for Rio. That was my main goal this year. Every athlete’s dream is to become an Olympian. I want this year to make my dream come true. Having multiple No Jumps in competitions is stopping me from getting the standard that I know I am capable of achieving. My last shot is next week at the Europeans in Amsterdam. We’ll see what happens there. I compete well under pressure, so hopefully I can pull it out on the day. After this year I really am not sure how things will go. It all depends on if I make the team. It’s hard being an athlete and constantly chasing standards with no financial support. So I’ll have to get back to you on that one about my future in Triple Jumping.

iTJ: What is your favourite stadium to compete in?
LS: Every year I look forward to competing at the British Championships at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham. I train there most days and I am a Birchfield Harrier. The crowd is always amazing and they help you down the runway.


iTJ: When you’re not training or competing what other interests and activities do you have?
LS: My main interest is sunbathing on a beach listening to the waves. Everybody who knows me knows I love a holiday. Travelling the world is one of my aims for the future. In a way we get to travel to some amazing places being an athlete. Other than laying back with sand between my toes (not from a sand pit) with a pina colada in my hand, spending time with friends and family is when I’m at my happiest.

iTJ: What advice would you give to any aspiring Triple Jumpers to help them make the most of their potential?
LS: Being an athlete, whether it’s Triple Jump or not, the key factor would be to make sure you are enjoying yourself. As long as you’re having fun and giving it your all. then the results will follow. Make sure you are in the right set-up and surrounded by positive energy with a good relationship with you and your coach. Sometimes Triple Jump can give you a headache with so many technical aspects to it but sometimes it’s best to take it down to basics and just jump like you know you can.

We wish Laura all the best in Amsterdam this week and hope the selectors see sense in ensuring she takes a well deserved place in the British Olympic Team for Rio next month.

You can catch Laura in action at the European Championships this week on British Eurosport 2 on Friday 8th July for the Women’s Triple Qualifying at 12.10pm (BST), with the Final on Sunday 10th July at at 4.25pm (BST) live on British Eurosport 1.

Laura Samuel Profile:

Date of Birth: 19/2/91
Club: Birchfield Harriers
Lead Coach: Aston Moore
Personal Best: 14.09m (2014 & 2016)/13.66i (2015)

Annual Progression:

2008: 11.81m 4th Inter-Territorial U20 Match
2009: 12.98m 4th British Championships & World Trials

1st England Athletics U20 Championships

1st England Athletics U20 Indoor Championships

1st English Schools Championships Senior Girls

1st Midland Counties U20 Championships

1st Leicestershire & Rutland Schools Championships

1st Leicestershire County Championships

2010: 13.75m 2nd World Junior Championships

1st British Championships & European Trials

5th British Indoor Championships & World Trials

1st England Athletics U20 Championships

1st England Athletics U20 Indoor Championships

5th Inter Counties Championships

1st Midland Counties U20 Championships

1st Leicestershire, Rutland & Warwickshire County Championships

8th London Grand Prix Diamond League

2011: 13.77w/13.67m 1st British Championships & World Trials

1st British Indoor Championships & European Trials

1st England Senior Championships

2nd England U23 Championships

1st Midland Championships

3rd Inter Counties Championships

2012: 13.75m 1st British Championships & Olympic Trials

5th UK Indoor Championships & European Trials

2nd England Championships

1st England Athletics U23 Championships

4th Inter Counties Championships

2013: 13.75w/13.73m 1st British Championships

1st England Athletics U23 Championships

2014: 14.09m 2nd Commonwealth Games

2nd British Championships & European Trials

1st British Indoor Championships

2015: 14.06m 1st British Indoor Championships

4th European Athletics Team Championships

2016: 14.09m 1st British Championships & Olympic Trials

8th IAAF Diamond League Birmingham

Written by iTripleJump

A Triple Jumper for over 35 years - from an over-hopping junior to a county-level senior - I still enjoy jumping in national and international Masters competitions in the event that has gripped me since my first hop, step and jump onto a springless PE mat. Waiting for that perfect jump. That one perfect jump ...

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