A sprinting renaissance is taking place in British athletics and Langtoft flyer Jasmine Allen (13) is desperate to become part of it.
The Bourne Grammar School student has been inspired by the exploits of Adam Gemili, James Dasaolu, Jodie Williams and Ashleigh Nelson, members of a British team that won 14 sprint medals at this year’s European Athletics Championships in Switzerland.
Add to that the ten sprint medals, including one gold for England’s 4 x 400 metres team, achieved at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in July and there was plenty to see and learn this summer.
“I watched the Commonwealth Games most nights because my coach Ken Maggs was discussing with me how we have to work on my starts,” Allen said.
“So I was watching the 100m, 200m and 400m, including Adam Gemili who inspired me when I saw how happy he was with his silver medal (won in the Commonwealth Games 100m final).”
Allen has the chance to grab the headlines on Sunday when she competes for her athletics club, Nene Valley Harriers, in the final of the Eastern Young Athletes League final in Essex – only the second time the club has qualified for the final.
Nene Valley Harriers is one of six teams to reach the final, alongside the likes of Bedford whose members include women’s marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe and hosts Basildon whose most famous member is former London Marathon winner Eamonn Martin.
Allen said: “My coach gives me lots to work on but it’s important for me to look at what I need to do and to have a say in my racing.
“But we usually agree on what to do and we make a joint decision on what to focus on in my training.”
Like most athletes, Allen’s talents were spotted early when she was a pupil at Langtoft Primary School and after trying out a range of events from sprinting to cross country at her athletics club, she settled on the sprints and long jump as her favourite events.
Allen said: “I did a lot of sports at primary school but in Year 4, my teacher saw something in me and I was entered for the Deepings Sports Day on a school playing fields and I was quite surprised to win my race.
“The feeling of racing for the first time against different people who weren’t in my school and club was very good.
“Then at Nene Valley Harriers, Russ Prosser (one of the club’s junior coaches) saw me in a cross country race and asked me to join the club, try out every event and see which one I preferred.
“I ended up concentrating on the sprints a lot more and they are the events I really enjoy.”
Allen has benefited from competing for Bourne Grammar School as well, reaching the English Schools Athletics Championships in July for the second year running and being named as one of the top 30 state schools for sport in England by School Sport magazine.
“Sport and schoolwork isn’t really a problem for me because I like to do my homework as I get it and being in a good sporting school gives me a better opportunity to get to the national finals,” Allen said.
“At the National Track and Field Schools’ Cup Final in July, I won the long jump for my age group and came second in the 200 metres which is probably my favourite event.
“It was good to find out that I’m doing well in this sport and now I’m just working on my technique with my coach.”
Maggs, a chartered accountant who is also an athletics coach, said: “Even at the age of 13, Jasmine is already a committed athlete who is keen to learn and understand why something is being suggested to her.
“Jasmine trains outside of the scheduled sessions, based on the training plan she’s been given, and she’ll work in training sessions with little or no moaning.
“She has a winner’s mentality and, as a result, Jasmine will always fight to the end in almost everything that she does.
“At the moment, Jasmine is excelling at a number of events in track and field which means she is very much in demand.
“The team spirit Jasmine has frequently means that she forgoes the chance of personal achievement by ensuring the team maximises points.
“Jasmine has already qualified for the national championship indoor 60 metres and for both the 200 metres and long jump outdoors which is to her credit, this being her first year at under-15 level.
“With the same progression over the winter and next year, she will put herself in a good position to make finals at these types of events.
“Alongside all of this, Jasmine has a smiling personality and an attitude which means she just buckles down and gets on with it.”
Allen is preparing for her second season in athletics at under-15 level with middle distance training in Crowland on Monday nights, training sessions at Peterborough’s Embankment Stadium on Thursdays and sprint sessions near her home in Langtoft at weekends.
“My coach still wants me to enjoy myself even though next year will be an exceptional one as I’ll be competing against athletes my age,” Allen said.
“It’ll be competitive but I always want to do better in races and if I don’t get a personal best, I’ll look back on the race with my coach to see what I need to work on.
“I’d love to be good enough to be able to run for Team GB and make it to the Olympic Games.
“It’ll mean a lot more commitment but I don’t mind that because I think it will pay off in the end.”