Sunday 17 December 2017

Athletics: Proper focused on long jump glory as heptathlon talk quashed

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

Kelly Proper's new Irish long jump record of 6.62m in Vienna last weekend has clinched her place in next month's World Indoors and, she says, underlines why she's not tempted to switch to the heptathlon.

Irish fans will see the talented Waterford star in action at the Woodies National Indoors in Belfast in a week's time and in the coming month, she's also hoping to compete in the Birmingham GP on February 20.

Getting into the Birmingham long jump would likely pit her against Britain's world-class heptathletes, reigning world champion Jessica Ennis and 2007 bronze medallist Kelly Sotherton.

And many feel that Proper, currently the Irish long jump and 200m champion, who also took 100m silver at the Nationals last summer, could take a similar path as she has serious potential as an international multi-eventer.

However, the Ferrybank field star says she has no notion of switching disciplines.

Having gone full-time this season, she is concentrating solely on the long jump right now, especially as she's already qualified for this summer's European Championships, a competition where 6.62m took fourth place back in 2006.

"I used to do multi-events when I was 16-17 and I was good at the throws, but the 800m nearly killed me," Proper quips.

"I think a lot of people switch to heptathlon when they're not doing well in their individual event, but I am very happy with it," she said.

"Plus, I am already training so hard for the long jump and my coaches -- Brid and Alan Golden -- have three small kids and certainly wouldn't have time to be training me for other events."

Having added 30cm to her personal best in the past year, Proper is clearly still developing.

She jumped a 6.59 best to reach the European Indoor final last March. The only blip in 2009 was when her big leap of 6.68m at the Nationals was wind-assisted, which meant she didn't qualify for the World Championships in Berlin.

"I really felt in great shape that day and felt that I would have jumped a PB without the wind," Proper says, admitting that indoor jumping is her preference.

"Having a wind behind you is much more disruptive because you're having to change your mark and run-up and can foul more often," she explains. Yet she still has no complaints about having to train outdoors all year round, even during the recent arctic conditions, because of Ireland's lack of indoor facilities.

"There's nothing you can do about it, so you just get on with it," Proper says stoically.

Elsewhere the 26th AXA Raheny Five Mile race takes place on Sunday at 3.0, with juvenile races (€5) from 2.15.

And for those who prefer their running wet and wild, there's a new 5km 'Mud Run', in aid of MS Ireland, taking place on the off-road track in Mondello Park on February 27.

Irish Independent

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