Part of our Young Athlete series, AW hears how one of Britain’s top junior steeplechasers got into the event
Jamaine Coleman has set PBs this year at every distance from 400m to 3000m, but it is in the steeplechase that he found his niche last year – via quite a chance introduction.
Having enjoyed some success over 800m in 2011, he has begun to make his mark over the barriers and stands at No.3 on the UK yearly under-20 lists for both 2000m and 3000m steeplechase. He explained his unorthodox route into the event: “I was messing around after a training session and I ran towards a barrier and cleared it quite easily. My coach and I decided to have a go at my local track.”
Success was not long in coming. In just his second race, Jamaine achieved the time for the English Schools and went on to claim silver in the event and earn selection to represent England in the SIAB Schools International, where he again finished runner-up, clocking a PB of 4:18.67 for the 1500m steeplechase.
After a good winter, which saw him build his strength by becoming county cross-country champion and placing tenth in the Northern, he stepped up to the under-20s and the subsequent longer steeplechase distance with relative ease. He won the English Schools 2000m event with a PB of 5:52.29, having already won the England Athletics under-20 title, and having recorded a PB of 9:21.75 for the 3000m event.
Reflecting on his first national title in Bedford, Jamaine recalls: “I was ranked fourth fastest, but I was surprisingly confident going into the race. I decided to take the race on and went to the front and pushed on the pace. Two under-23s overtook me with a lap to go, but I managed to stay strong and win my age group by 10 seconds. This gave me a lot of confidence that I could go on and win the English Schools.”
A talented footballer in his younger days, Jamaine used to win all the athletics events at school but always liked 800m and 1500m best. His PE teacher, Mr Wilson, entered him into the Lancashire Schools under-15 1500m in 2010 and he finished second. After the race, the experienced Andy Bibby at Preston Harriers approached Jamaine and asked him to go to the club.
After initial hesitancy, he has never looked back and is now part of a large group guided by Bibby at the Lancashire club. “I would regard us as being a very good training group, as we have a range of lads who can do longer reps with me and lads who have blistering pace for my shorter reps,” he said.
“I do the majority of my sessions with the English Schools under-17 cross-country and 3000m silver medallist Paddy Dever. Paddy is a perfect training partner, as we both know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we both benefit from each other in training, pushing ourselves to the maximum of our capabilities.”
He hopes to continue his improvement into the winter. “Hopefully I can get a hard winter in and use that for strength for the summer,” he said. “The ultimate aim for next season is to qualify for the World Junior Championships in America. I hope to defend the national honours I won this season as well and be near the top of the rankings for all distance events.”
You can find further performance stats on Jamaine on Power of 10 here.
» Brooks Sports are delighted to sponsor Young Athlete and are keenly working with Athletics Weekly to showcase some of Britain’s talented youngsters. The young athlete featured each week receives a Podium long sleeve T-shirt, emblazoned with the Brooks and Athletics Weekly logos. Support junior athletics via the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, see rpmf.org.uk.