The world No.1 is targeting a first outdoor championship long jump podium place in Berlin
Long jumper Lorraine Ugen insists she doesn’t feel any pressure from going into the European Championships as the world No.1 and hopes that her plan to ‘have fun’ this season continues to pay off.
The 26-year-old surpassed seven metres for the first time with her world-leading and championship record-breaking 7.05m leap to win the British title in Birmingham.
No other female long jumper has broken that seven-metre mark this summer and now Ugen looks to continue the momentum she has created as she targets a first outdoor championship medal to add to her world and European indoor prizes from 2016 and 2017 respectively.
“Coming into the season I wanted to have fun with it, be more relaxed and not so uptight and so hard on myself,” she explains.
“Even though the Championships are coming up, I’m not putting pressure on myself or making myself think, ‘Now I have to get serious’.
“I’m just going there hoping to win a medal. Yes, I’m world leader right now but there are still world-class girls who are competing in Europe so I’m not going to put pressure on myself to say I’m going to be disappointed if I don’t come away with gold.
“I’ll be disappointed if I don’t come away with a medal, but whichever colour, that depends on the day.”
Serbia’s reigning champion Ivana Spanovic and Germany’s Malaika Mihambo have both jumped 6.99m this season – a PB for Mihambo while Spanovic’s best is 7.10m.
Ugen’s team-mates are also not too far behind, with Shara Proctor having jumped 6.91m and Jazmin Sawyers 6.86m.
A hamstring tear sustained at the IAAF World Indoor Tour meeting in Karlsruhe at the beginning of February meant Ugen couldn’t aspire to repeat her 2016 and 2017 levels of indoors success earlier this year but she returned to finish fourth at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Doing more speed work in training and a switch from the hang to the hitch-kick jump technique have helped Ugen feel as though she’s really found her rhythm.
“It feels more natural now,” she says.
“I’ve had a pretty good season so far and I’m just trying to continue that same momentum into the European Championships.
“It’s definitely a confidence boost knowing that I’ve been able to have a much more consistent season. I still need to go into the European Championships level-headed and knowing that there’s going to be some really talented girls there and there are going to be a lot of people jumping far.
“I have to go in there prepared and know it’s not going to be a walk in the park.”