Ademola focuses on beating his long jump record with an eye on Olympic qualification

The athlete’s 7.93m long jump broke the Irish under-23 record just over two weeks ago and it can only be a matter of time before he reaches the eight-metre mark

It is understandable why Reece Ademola is tiring somewhat of the repeated references to his vertical height, all 6ft 9in of it, especially when he’s far more concerned about horizontal metres.

“Yeah, not shrinking yet anyway,” Ademola says with a smile.

It’s just over two weeks since Ademola improved the Irish indoor under-23 long jump record, when just two days before turning 21, he leaped out to 7.93m at the World Indoor Tour meeting in Ostrava.

A week before that, he’d jumped 7.86m, all eyes from here naturally on the eight-metre mark (or 26ft 3in, if you want to measure it that way).


Ciarán McDonagh remains the only Irish athlete to reach that mark, indoors or out, his best of 8.07m set back in 2005. For Ademola that may only be a matter of time, and there’s certainly no forcing it.

“I knew training was going well through the whole winter block, I didn’t know it would be this good,” he says of his 7.93m in Ostrava, placing him third behind World and Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou from Greece, who jumped 8.09m.

“I don’t go in with any idea how I’m going to jump, I just do it and if I feel good on the day then, yeah, it works out for me. So eight metres is on my mind, but if it comes, it comes. Because if you force it, it doesn’t work out. It’s very unnatural to do that, so I just go at it, competition by competition, and progress from there.”

Ademola is also eyeing up Olympic qualification, the automatic qualification mark for Paris set at 8.27m; that may be beyond him for now, and only seven jumpers in the world have reached that mark since qualification started last July. In all, 32 jumpers will be invited to Paris, mostly on the qualifying quota; Ademola currently sits 20th.

“One thing I learned from last year is to keep expectations low. I just 100 per cent focus on training, more than I was last year, because of the year that it is right now, with the Olympics, trying to get my spot for that.

“All good things will come in time, it’s the place every athlete wants to be, but if it happens, it happens.”

He’s talked before about his introduction to athletics, having tried several other sports growing up in Cork, including basketball with Coláiste Chríost Rí, plus Blue Demons and Neptune, before a chance intervention from Derek Neff at Leevale AC diverted him back into the long jump, and his current coach Liz Coomey.

“And I was told if I did play rugby, I was going to dominate in the sport,” he says with that smile again, “but I couldn’t hurt this pretty face! I was told to go to other sports, and I did, to be fair, I played a bit of GAA, a bit of basketball, but none of it really stuck like athletics. It was just more diverse, I suppose, I was looking for that at the time, and I’m here now.

At this weekend’s National Indoor Championships in Abbotstown, he’ll look to win a second senior title, having won outdoors in Santry last July. He’s also deferred his course in Recreation and Leisure Management at the Munster Technological University to give himself every chance of making Paris.

“For me, anyway, if I get my first jump in, I’m smooth, grand for the rest of the competition. But I feel like my landing can definitely get a touch up, I’m falling like a sack of potatoes in the air, so I’m trying to hold myself up as long as possible. My coach knows that best, so we’ll try to work that out after indoors, and see what happens then.”

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Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics