PODCAST #43: Jona Efoloko and Sarah Benson

Commonwealth 4x100m relay champion Jona Efoloko discusses his journey from junior to senior success in the sport, having enjoyed a phenomenal breakthrough season winning medals at all three major championships in 2022.

Complementing that conversation is England Athletics’ new Head of Talent Development, Sarah Benson, who discusses her background as a steeplechaser, what the athlete journey pathway for someone like Jona entails and her vision for the role.

Jona Efoloko says of 2022:

“Three championships, three opportunities. It was definitely a goal of mine to go to each one and potentially medal, and to have done so is a great achievement.”

When he found out he’d be running in the 4x100m final at the World Athletics Championships:

“The first thing I did was go to bed!”

On the atmosphere at the Alexander Stadium:

“Commonwealth Games was the best stadium I’ve ever been in. I’ve never seen a stadium so packed for athletics…when we competed, it was surreal…in football they say it’s ‘the twelfth man’, the home crowd just gives you that extra boost. I understand that now.

Sarah Benson on her desire as a coach to young athletes:

“What I would like to achieve with every single athlete that I coach at the moment, is that they have such a positive interaction with the sport that it remains a lifelong hobby, passion – at any level they wish to stay connected.”

Sarah on working to help each event group in the sport:

“Where are the gaps in the athlete numbers and why is that happening? Is it because of lack of facilities, lack of coaches, lack of competition opportunities? It’s about really nailing down what that strategy is for that particular event group that we can then influence and support.”

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  • Featured image: Bedford, 19/6/21. Jona Efoloko (406) wins the under 23 men’s 100m with Jeremiah Azu (403) in second and Dominic Ashwell (401) third. Photo by Mark Shearman