Journey to the Gold Coast: Jade Lally
On the 4th April 2018 the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games will be getting underway on Australia’s Gold Coast.
In October, Team England announced which athletes had been selected to take the 75 allocated places on the athletics squad, and those athletes will now be preparing for what is considered the competition pinnacle for England representative teams. We will be catching up with various members of the squad as they set their sights on next year’s event in Queensland.
One of the athletes who knows what it’s like to compete in the sunnier climes of Australia is Jade Lally (Club: Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers, Coach: Andrew Neal), “I've been competing in Australia for three years now, so I already know what atmosphere to expect. I think the crowd will really get behind the home athletes which will make the stadium loud, which is perfect! Aussies are really into their sport and know how to put on a good show. I also think the bonus of certain situations being England Vs Australia will give it an Ashes feel, which will also get the crowd going!”
Unfortunately, Jade’s 2017 season has been hampered by injury that has impacted on her progression, “The back injury quite literally destroyed all of my plans! But I did throw 62m early in the year, in Sydney. And I didn’t do that on the back of a big training block. So that gives me confidence mentally, to know that I don’t need 12 months to get in shape.”
“I'm still taking it slow. A wise man once said to rush slowly, so that's what I'm doing! I'm still nursing my back, but I have a really good medical team around me to keep me on track. I'm relatively happy with my gym work and my throwing has been pain free for some weeks now, so I'm starting to make progress there too. Hopefully, these training gains will continue into the new year when I go back to Sydney for a training block. Start throwing outside again with feeling in my hands! (I have snow to thank for that).”
Jade explains she has maintained her focus during a tough season, “I have targets of course, but they’re moving targets (hypothetically!) I was in great shape during the 2016 season, so now it's about getting that '16 season form back and seeing what I can do. I'm on a bit of a time limit, but actually things are going really well, and I have high hopes for these Games.”
Gold Coast 2018 will be Jade’s third Commonwealth’s, and there is no doubt she will be taking heart from the past big-competition-experience she has gained, particularly her superb bronze medal performance in 2014, “Glasgow was special for me. I was struggling all year with my throwing, then I started to get to grips with things psychologically and it all came together on the day. I was definitely ranked outside the top 3 going into that competition, so to finish with a Bronze medal and a Seasons Best performance was really special for me.”
“Delhi 2010 was my first experience of a multi-sport Games. I loved every minute of it. The atmosphere, the holding camp, the athlete village, the lot. I took in so much from those champs and it has definitely helped me prepare for other Champs since then.”
The opportunity to learn from other athletes at these competitions is one that Jade feels privileged to have benefitted from, “Philippa Roles from the Wales team was always a huge inspiration to me. She was a really nice, down-to-earth friend. She often spoke to me during competitions to help me calm my nerves, offer support and advice. She was there at my first Games in Delhi and helped keep everything 'normal' for me. Although sadly, she is no longer with us, I still see her as a huge inspiration and someone to look up to.”
When the athletics schedule kicks off in the Gold Coast next April the eyes of the next generation of aspiring throwers will be on Jade and her team mates, so what would her advice be to them?
“Never give up!” Jade responds.
“It’s easy for people, and you, to give up on things because it's hard work and requires you to look outside the box sometimes. But that’s ok, sport is a mini version of what life is like. You win some, you lose some. Sometimes you struggle, sometimes you're lucky. Either way, you're here and you need to make the most of it- wherever that may be! As throwers, it's hard to get the coverage and support we sometimes feel we deserve, but that drive to get noticed will only serve you well later in life. Be stubborn and be heard. We're throwers and we're made of strong stuff!”