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On Track Athletics caught up with High Jumper Deborah Martin who is currently ranked 7th in the UK for High Jump with a best of 1.80m.
Deborah provided us with an insight into her training and life as an athlete. She also gave us some inspirational thoughts on life in general and her own experiences of lockdown 2020.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your life so far?
Thank you for having me. I am 26 years old and a national standard high jumper who has been competing for 11 years. Alongside that I work at the Julie Rose Stadium in Ashford coaching athletics to juniors and people with disabilities as well as multi-sports sessions. I work with some great young people and really enjoy my job as it is so rewarding.
How did you get into athletics?
I have always enjoyed sport and enjoyed anything that involved running around. I took part in school sports until I was in year 8 when I started to take part in High Jump and broke a number of school records. It was then when my PE teacher suggested I come along to an athletics club so I went down to Ashford Athletic Club in 2008 and really enjoyed it and everyone was so welcoming and that was it I stayed.
Describe your typical day or week?
My weeks are split into a number of different chunks; with my work I coach about 10 groups a week so I fit in my training around these. A typical day would include going to work in the morning and coaching for a few hours; this would then be followed by a training session that could include some short sprints, rhythm running, mini hurdle runs and strength & conditioning in the gym. Lunch would be followed by some more coaching at work. In the evening I usually join my coach John for some technical jumps training with the rest of his jumps group.
What has been your biggest athletics achievement?
Properly when I won the England Athletics U23 Championships in 2014. Another achievement I am proud of is gaining a national vest in 2016 when I competed in the Czech Republic and represented England. I finished 3rd in the b-competition and got to see lots of the worlds top high jumpers in action.
What has been your biggest athletics disappointment?
I think everyone has had disappointments but my biggest one was in 2013 when I was competing in my first indoor senior British Athletics Championships when I failed to clear the opening height. We travelled all the way to Sheffield and back for me not to clear the height. I used this experience as a learning and went back to training motivated not to let that happen again.
What advice would you give athletes in the sport based on your experience?
My biggest piece of advice would be to stay positive. You need to enjoy the good times and when things are not going so well find the positive in everything. A happy athlete is a better athlete.
Apart from athletics what else do you like to do?
Well I love my animals and a volunteer to work at two different Zoos in Kent. The big cat sanctuary in Smarden and Port Lympne Wild Animal Park. At the big cat sanctuary we have almost 50 different types of cat including Lions, Tigers, Leopards as well lots of smaller cats which a lot of people would not have heard of such as fish cats, poll cats etc… As part of volunteering role I help the keepers, prepare food for the animals and give people tours and experiences.
I have been working at big cat sanctuary for 11 years and just over a year the Port Lympne. One of the funniest stories I have is at Port Lympne I look after the squirrel monkeys and one likes to sit on my head and chew my watch strap recently the watch strap broke.
Who has inspired you the most in your life?
I have been really lucky in my life and got to meet so many different people including so the worlds top high jumpers. I have to say that some of the most inspiring people I have met and especially at the moment with what is going on in the world I have to say those who work in the medical profession. They go out every day, they have such a broad range of skills, they are helping people and saving lives 365 days a year whenever you need them the most. They are just incredible. Even the COVID pandemic hasn’t stopped them and many members of staff have put themselves at risk to protect others. I had a health scare myself during lockdown with Ovarian Cancer and I can say first hand how amazing they were. The speed at which they acted was just phenomenal and I owe my surgeon, her team and the NHS my life.
What opportunities has the sport given you?
I got the chance to train with Olympic Champion Tia Hellebaut which was amazing. Athletics has also given me the chance to travel which I wouldn’t have done if I wasn’t in athletics.
Describe yourself in three words?
Finally what is your favourite food?
Chinese I love it and if I needed to choose I would go with Duck Pancakes.
You can hear the full interview on our brand new here Podcast.