JJ Jegede is a one of Great Britain’s leading athletes who specialty is the Long jump. His personal best is 8.11 meters and is currently 2014 British Indoor and Outdoor Champion. He has competed for Great Britain in 3 European Championships with a best finish of 4th at the 2012 edition. He has also competed for England at Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games finishing 7th.
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JJ Jegede is a one of Great Britain’s leading athletes who speciality is the Long jump. His personal best is 8.11 metres and is currently 2012 UK Champion. Although JJ has achieved successes in sport, his journey to this position has been challenging. He is the youngest of 4 children and was brought up by only his mum in Hackney, east London. Hackney is the most deprived area in the UK according to its SOA rank. Hackney is above the London average in all crimes including violence against the person, common assault and burglary. The environment was difficult to succeed in and JJ got into numerous fights in primary school. His mother decided to school him in the suburbs of Barking and this is where he was introduced to sport. He wasn’t a talented sportsman but tried every sport sometimes coming last. He persisted and became a decent footballer that had trials with Tottenham and Norwich.
JJ wasn’t intellectually gifted either but worked diligently at his studies and became the only child in his household to go to university. He was awarded a sports scholarship and studied Banking and Finance at Loughborough University.
The road to the long jump runway and medals was never in his plans! He only wanted to be a footballer and had trials with Norwich and Tottenham in his early teens. It was only after his P.E. teacher Mr Tickner forced him to compete in the long jump that he found his forte. After coming second by 1cm with 5.88m he was inspired to go to his local club and train to improve. His passion for the event grew and 10 years later, after national and international victories, he is striving to win the greatest prize of all, Olympic gold! In October 2010, he began working with Peter Stanley who coached triple jump world record holder Jonathan Edwards. Since then he has achieved indoor and outdoor personal bests and the sky is the limit.
So tell us a little bit about your background, where were you born?
Growing up in East London, and I was actively involved in sports entering trials with several football clubs like Tottenham Hotspurs. I was really good at football and was the top scorer in the team. After finishing playing a match one day I developed a knee problems at the age of 14 and found it difficult to play football again.
What happened after leaving football?
When I was 16 my PE teacher persuaded me to try the long jump, so I went ahead and signed up. In my first ever competition I think I came 7th or 8th that day. The following season (2003) I represented Essex at the English Schools Championships, and in 2004 I won the U20 AAA Championship and my first ever international vest.
Why did you get into a career in athletics and not football?
“My P.E. teacher forced me into a schools competition to compete in the long jump” he says, before adding “I got hooked and the rest was history.” In his first ever event he came in second- 1cm behind the winner. While JJ remains coy about whether he can catch fellow Brit Greg Rutherford’s leading distance of 8.51m, he is looking to jump further than he has before: “I hope to jump more than (my personal best of) 8.11. I’m looking forward to finding out.” “I want to jump very far! I want to look back on my career and be able to say to myself that I always tried to keep improving and maximizing my talents.” And to do this he trains six days a week for up to four hours. The 28 year-old varies his training between running, weights, plyometrics and of course actual jumping.
The best thing about being an athlete according to the man himself is the “competitive aspect.” Luckily for him and for spectators there is plenty of competition for him to go up against, not only internationally but closer to home on the domestic front. “We’ve got some good long jumpers in Britain.” However, he’s clear who his biggest rival is,: “My biggest rival is myself. It’s a constant battle with myself to get the best out.”