Lorraine Ugen will fly the flag for TVH in the Rio Olympics after winning selection to represent Team GB in the long jump.
Get ready for a couple of late nights as all being well she will be competing at the following times (BST):
– Qualifying – Tuesday 16th August 1.05am
– Final – Wednesday 17th August 1:15am
Questions & Answers
How did you feel when you heard you’d made the GB team?
Honestly, I felt relief. I knew that by this year I would be a contender to make the Olympic team, since before the season started I’d already told myself that I was going. So I was relieved that I had finally done it. I also felt proud that I have the opportunity to represent my country on such a large platform. The Worlds are big but the Olympics are even bigger. You have people watching who wouldn’t normally so it’s great to have the opportunity to use sport to bring pride to the nation watching at home.
How have preparations been going?
They have been kind of unconventional, but I’m back on the right track now. I suffered an injury this season which slowed down my progress but I am back on track to getting to where I want to be come the Olympics. I was in the best shape I have been in my career pre-injury and I know that if I can just focus for these last couple of weeks leading up to the Olympics anything can happen.
How do you rate your medal chances?
I am going to Rio with the intention of trying to get on the podium. I think I have the ability to make that happen and I will try my best to make sure I am the best shape of my life come August 16.
Who are your main rivals?
Honestly, everybody competing is. You never know what will happen on the day so I focus less on my external rivals (them) and more on my own internal rival. I think that making sure I am confident in myself and truly believing that I can get on the podium is my main rival. And if I can go there psychologically ready then I know already my body will follow suit.
It’s a wonderful achievement for Lorraine who has long set her heart on competing in Rio, making up for disappointment in just missing selection for London four years ago.
“To miss 2012 was definitely tough,” she says. “It didn’t happen but it gave me the fuel that I wasn’t going to miss out again so it’s all about Rio.”
Lorraine joins a distinguished group of previous TVH Olympians https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thames_Valley_Harriers#Olympians , led of course by club President Linford Christie who won a memorable 100m gold at Barcelona in 1992.
Her big breakthrough came earlier this year in winning bronze in the World Indoor Championships with a personal best of 6.93m. https://www.thamesvalleyharriers.com/brilliant-world-indoor-bronze-for-tvhs-lorraine-ugen/
She now believes she can break the 7m barrier – hopefully at Rio where she will be part of a strong GB long jump team with Shara Proctor and Jazmin Sawyers.
Road to Rio
Born and raised in London Lorraine was originally a budding gymnast, sprinter and high jumper at school in Bexleyheath before focusing on the long jump. “I usually did the 60m and high jump but they were on different days so my mum suggested I did the long jump,” she says. “I didn’t make the final but it was fun.”
Her early technique left a bit to be desired. “I look like a dangly spider,” she says. “I didn’t have a take-off leg, I’d just jump with whichever leg got to the board first.”
Lorraine achieved national success at a young age, winning both the indoor and outdoor long jump titles at the 2009 English junior championships, as well as the English Schools’ Athletics Championships.
She made her international debut at the 2009 European Junior Championships but didn’t manage to get beyond qualifying, then met the same fate at the 2010 World Junior Championships.
Even so, the international attention Lorraine was attracting led to approaches from several U.S. universities and ultimately won her an athletics scholarship at Texas Christian University to study Film, TV and Digital Media.
“I wanted to balance my schoolwork and still be able to train efficiently and pursue my athletic endeavours. Having spent one year in an English university that was the main thing I found very difficult.”
It’s a move that certainly paid off. Lorraine won U.S. university titles both indoors and outdoors, then secured GB selection for a first senior championship in the 2013 Moscow World Championships as well as placing fifth at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and fifth a year later at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing.
“They paid for me to go out there to check it out so I thought why not, but I never thought I’d leave London. It’s been a good decision and I’ve not had one regret. Okay, I have been homesick for London sometimes, for friends and family, but my personal best improved and my whole attitude improved.”
Originally a member of Blackheath & Bromley Harriers, Lorraine joined the Valley last year, and all the club wish her the very best in Brazil. Lorraine says she is heading out on August 3: “Hopefully I will bump into some of the TVH supporters in Rio!”