No matter what happens on her Olympic debut tonight, one thing is for sure – Jazmin Sawyers will have a huge smile on her face.
The bubbly University of Bath-based long jumper says she thrives on the pressure of competing on the biggest stages, as borne out by her silver medals from the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and this year’s European Championships.
She also won her first-ever British Championships gold medal this summer to secure her place in Rio.
“I’m really, really excited, it’s what I’ve been working towards for the past four years,” said Sawyers, whose qualifier take place at 1.05am BST on Wednesday.
“It’s going to be a big stage but I feel that’s where I come into my own and perform best. When the stadium is full and the camera is in your face that’s when I’m in my element, I love that.
“You’d think that would make you more scared and nervous but it does the opposite with me, it relaxes me and makes me feel like I’m where I belong.
“You have to enjoy it – when I’m out there competing, I’m having as good as a time as I look like I’m having. Ultimately I’m getting to do what I wanted as a kid, which is going out and performing in front of thousands of people for my country. How could I not be enjoying myself, it’s a dream!
“When the crowd are involved and I have a smile on my face, that’s when the big performances come.”
Multi-talented Sawyers began her career as a heptathlete, competing against the likes of Katarina Johnson-Thompson as a junior, before focusing on long jump in 2012.
That came about after she took time out of athletics to compete with British Bobsleigh at the Youth Winter Olympic Games, winning a silver medal in the two-man bob with Mica McNeill.
That was Sawyers’ first experience of training at the University of Bath and, after a year in Sheffield, she returned in 2013 when she took up a Law and Criminology degree at Bristol University. She graduated last month.
Her training programme is put together by Alan Lerwell, a 1968 and 1972 Olympian who is based at Millfield School in Street – the pair first worked together when Sawyers was a pupil there.
Lerwell visits Sawyers at the Sports Training Village each week for technical sessions, while the rest of her training is done alongside the athletes in Malcolm Arnold and James Hillier’s groups including fellow Rio Olympians Eilidh Doyle and Andrew Pozzi.
“Technically I don’t have a training group but I still feel part of something here,” said the 22-year-old. “I’m part of Malcolm’s group, I’m part of James’ group – it’s a team effort, everyone really pushes each other on.
“It’s so nice that Eilidh, Andrew and Emily Diamond are in Rio as well and we’re getting to do this together. We train together every day and we get to reap the rewards together.”