AW spoke to under-17 triple jumper Stefan Amokwandoh about training for an injury-associated event at such a young age
Stefan Amokwandoh became involved in athletics when he was aged 11 in year 6 at school. He started off doing long jump at the Croydon Schools Championships and continued in athletics in years 7 and 8, competing for his school and mostly doing 200m and long jump.
However, in year 8 at the age of 13, he was asked to do the triple jump for a point for Whitgift Independent School. Amokwandoh says: “I suppose this was the first time that I ever competed in the discipline and, although only jumping 10.84m, I won the competition. I grew to like the triple jump more and it became my field event of choice.”
The youngster joined Blackheath & Bromley AC in 2011 having already begun to concentrate on the hop, step and jump event. Although being involved in football at the Charlton Athletic academy, it was only after winning the English Schools in 2011 that he realised he may have the potential to be successful in the event.
He adds: “I had tried 200m, 400m and long jump, but the triple was the only event that I had produced distances to a high standard in and with some recent successes I decided to pursue it with encouragement from my school.”
It’s no surprise that the 16-year-old rates the English Schools a couple of years ago as his breakthrough competition. He explains: “I had improved my PB by some 40 centimetres in that competition alone and had just become No.1 in the UK. Not only was there the winning, but I loved thriving off the competitive atmosphere and the whole experience.
“I was still quite a crude jumper at this point and, having had no training at all, I felt like I could achieve much more if I were to focus more and begin to train properly for it.”
Having since gone on to dominate at this year’s English Schools competition also, the Blackheath & Bromley athlete rates the England Athletics Under-17 Championships last year as another competition that has been one of the most satisfying thus far.
He recalls: “Being a first-year under-17 competing against more experienced and older jumpers created a buzz and coming third on countbacks was a good result for me.
“The most satisfying thing about that competition was realising that I could keep up with those more experienced jumpers and that I also have a lot more potential to unlock to achieve greater distances.”
Initially his training consisted of drills, some sprinting and learning the technique of each phase and he says: “In many ways, training for me over the years has been more or less the same. It consists mainly of strength and conditioning in the winter and more technical jump-based work during the active jumping season (indoors and outdoors).”
He adds: “This year, though, more plyometric training and some weight-bearing exercises have been introduced into my training programme.”
He lists breaking the 15-metre barrier as a major goal and in the long-term his targets are measured. He says: “I want to be a consistent jumper on the world stage and who knows maybe jump a new world record?” For now, though, he realises that it’s extremely important to keep on learning about the discipline and improve while trying to stay free from any serious injuries.