Athlete Feature - Jake Heyward

After his blistering 1,500m lifetime best run of 3:39:84 in Oslo last week, which took him up to 3rd on the All-Time UK u20 rankings, we caught up with Cardiff’s Jake Heyward to talk about his progress this season and what his hopes are for the rest of 2018.

WA: So, Jake, how did it feel to go 3rd on the all-time u20 Men's 1500m list after your brilliant race at Oslo?

JH: It was an amazing feeling to break the 3:40 barrier and it’s something that I know I’ve been capable of for a while now, so it was just a matter of getting myself in a fast race and delivering on the day. Reflecting on the race, I’m not completely happy with how I ran – the time was pleasing but I made a lot of mistakes throughout the race that I now need to learn from and take on board for the next time I’m exposed to that standard of competition.

WA: We saw you run 3:42 at Oordegem a few weeks ago, a race in which you finished very quickly over the final 200m. Did that give you confidence in knowing that you were capable of running a lot faster in Oslo?

JH: Certainly, I had a pretty stressful week leading into Oordegem with university exams, so I didn’t feel 100% on the night. However, I knew that I had a job to do and just needed to tick off the World Junior Qualifying Standard. Finishing fast was a bonus and showed me just how much more I had left in the tank.

WA: We know that you're training with James Thie's training group, which includes athletes like Tom Marshall and Ieuan Thomas. How much has that helped you improve as an athlete this year?

JH: I think the biggest difference training with James is having an amazing group of athletes that can help push me over the longer sessions during the winter. I believe my mindset is the greatest asset I’ve developed, and I was able to get a respectable cross-country season under my belt as well as testing myself over the 3k indoors. Seeing just how hard the guys in the group work was eye-opening and served as great motivation to get up and get out for my runs – especially on those days when perhaps motivation was lacking because it was dark, cold and pouring down with rain.

WA: Finally, what are the hopes and expectations for the rest of the season?

JH: I set myself pretty high standards, some people may even think they’re a little crazy, but I truly believe I can achieve them. My main target is firstly to ensure I qualify for the World Juniors this weekend in Bedford. From then I can hopefully focus on finishing as high up as possible at the World Junior Championships. After this I will then turn my attention to the London Diamond League and try and get after some quick times as I believe this is something I haven’t really done yet.

Jake’s coach, James Thie, echoes many of his talented athlete’s thoughts, commenting “We really focused on getting in a good winter last year so that Jake was able to build a base of strength and endurance – and that showed with some of his performances indoors and on the cross-country, such as his British Junior 3,000m Record run of 8:00 and overall Cross-Challenge victory in Loughborough back in March" 

James was also quick to praise the work of Jake’s former coach, Paul Darney stating “Paul was brilliant in guiding Jake’s development as a young athlete – when you look at his technique and his temperament now, a lot of that was developed from a young age thanks to Pauls’ great coaching. Jake came on board with our group as a talented junior athlete who wasn’t burned out or fatigued from overtraining, as many of today’s most promising junior athletes are – and that’s largely down to Paul’s guided and measured coaching with Jake from a young age”

When looking ahead to the next few weeks, James commented “We’ve ticked all the boxes so far this season, Jake struggled with hay fever early in April and so we decided he should race in Oordegem to gain the World Junior Qualifying Standard, which he managed to do. Then in Oslo we knew he’d get a high-quality field and a fast race, which is great preparation for a championship like the World Junior Championships. Now it’s just a case of hopefully getting the job done at the England u20 Championships this weekend and then focusing on the World Juniors and doing as well as he can out there.”

Jake, along with many other welsh junior athletes will be in action at this weekend’s England u20 & u23 Championships in Bedford, with many looking to book their place at the World Junior Championships in Finland next month. This weekend’s championships will be streamed live via VincoSport on Saturday and Sunday.

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Cardiff. CF11 8AZ.

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