My life as a UCL elite athlete, part 3

9 July 2012

Abigail long jump thumb

In her final instalment UCL Law alumna Abigail Irozuru describes the challenges of battling for an Olympic squad place.

Having all of a sudden found my spring it is quite a bump back down to earth at the realisation that my 2012 Olympic Dream is over.

In June, I jumped an Olympic A qualifying standard of 6.80m, ranking me top ten in the WORLD this year! The closest I’ve ever come to being top ten in the world was in 2008 when I finished eighth in the final of the World Junior Championships. I only jumped about 6.20m, but it meant I was eighth-ranked junior (under-20) in the world.

This year, the feeling was quite different: a truly emotional moment. If you don’t believe me, you can watch my reaction to my new personal best on YouTube!

In the sports’ world though, life takes twists and turns; athletes go from highs of new personal bests (PBs) to lows of losses and injury. So, to complement this high of an Olympic A-standard, I suffered the devastating LOW blow of non-selection to the ‘Great’ British Olympic team.

I do feel scorned. And what is it they say about ‘a woman’s scorn’? I’m just kidding! I have learned in such circumstances that instead of lashing out, hating the world, and crying for days, to just let go and move on.

Easier said than done, without a doubt. I haven’t cried. I don’t hate the world. And I hope I haven’t lashed out at anybody. I have even let go.

After the appeal there was no further action possible to be taken to try to secure my place on the Olympic team. But, unfortunately, so far I have not moved on. The motivation to train is at an all-time low.

Remember the ‘passion’ I mentioned in my earlier blogs of waking up at ridiculous o’clock to get to training on time and the ‘sacrifice’ of not eating junk food, chocolate and sweets? You don’t? Neither do I!

Even though the season is still ongoing – and will not end until late August/early September – it is a struggle to stay focused when my main goal of the Olympic Games has disappeared from my gaze.

I would compare it to the light at the end of the tunnel. Suddenly, the light goes out and you’re trying to find a new focus to escape the darkness… Ok, can you tell I’m a 22-year-old female? A little on the dramatic side, right? That’s me!

Anyway, right now is a low. But I know that I won’t stay down here forever. I struggled with the challenge of balancing an LLB Law degree at UCL with a full-time Olympic-dream athletics career; yet I managed, I have jumped a 43cm personal outdoor best. I have literally had what people are terming a ‘breakthrough’ year.

Despite the low of no Olympics, I still have the high of a new level in my athletics career. I still have the high of having completed my Law degree. I still have the high of friends, family and my God as comfort as well as to energise me out of melancholy, regret and pessimism into excitement for the future and PBs galore next season!

There are other championships next year and there is no way I’ll be giving the British selectors a reason not to select me to the British team again.

As a side note, it’s interesting to think that there were two athletics championships this outdoor season – the European Champs in Helsinki and the Olympic Games in Stratford, London! I made the former, but as this was not my ultimate aim, it did not seem significant.

I thank God, though, for allowing me to represent my country at least once this year. My coach, Larry Achike has been a God-send in accelerating my progress this year also!