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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 March 2005, 14:49 GMT
Jumping ahead of the competition
By Sarah Holt

British long jumper Jade Johnson
Age: 24
Event: Long jump
Personal bests: Indoor: 6.52m Outdoor: 6.80m
Honours: Silver (Commonwealth Games & European Championships 2002)
AAAs outdoor champion (2002, 2003 & 2004) AAAs indoor champion (2000 & 2005)
Coach: John Herbert, Clarence Callender & Donovan Reid
Club: Herne Hill Harriers

Long jumper Jade Johnson is approaching the European Indoor Championships with a surprisingly honest lack of zeal.

The British number one has shown decent form this season, landing a new indoor personal best of 6.52m in Birmingham.

But the way she is talking you would think she could not care less about winning a medal in Madrid.

"Competing indoors is not high on my list of priorities," Johnson told BBC Sport.

"Indoors is a fun thing to do. It's not something I take as seriously as outdoors. For me, it's just a bonus."

Johnson's laid-back attitude is refreshing but do not be fooled - the Londoner sets herself high standards and is definitely in the hunt for more silverware.

The 24-year-old burst onto the international scene two years ago, claiming Commonwealth and European silver in a memorable summer.

Since then, Johnson has struggled to find her best form at major championships, agonisingly finishing in fourth place at the worlds in 2003 and seventh in a high-class Olympic final.

"The last couple of years I've coasted," admits Johnson, with a sigh.

"I would've liked to have progressed more but that's how it goes.

"Seventh at the Olympics for me is rubbish. I wasn't happy whatsoever. The only thing that dampened the disappointment was the fact I got a personal best of 6.80m.

"I'm nowhere near what I know I can jump but it's within my reach.

"I've just got to be patient but I definitely feel like this is the year where I want to say, 'This is my time now.'"

Johnson's decision to return to the indoor arena after a five-year absence is a testament to her renewed determination.

And the 24-year-old believes she is capable of using the indoor season as a springboard to her greater outdoor ambitions.

"If I get all the cobwebs out of the way at this time of the year, I can go back in training and come back out and compete outdoors," said the Herne Hill Harrier.

Jade Johnson in action at the Athens Olympics
The fishnet stockings are definitely making a comeback this season
Jade Johnson

"It'll be a good indication to see what might happen outdoors. So I'm already ahead of the game."

Johnson is aiming to try to get the jump on her rivals in the build-up to the Europeans indoors and August's World Championships in Helsinki.

The women's event is very strong despite the fact that Russian trio Tatyana Lebedeva, Irina Simagina and Tatyana Kotova scooped an Olympic one-two-three.

The Russians have yet to emerge this season although Johnson fully expects them to "jump 7m out of nowhere".

The Londoner herself is lying just inside the top 20 in the world indoor rankings despite setting two lifetime bests this season.

However, facts and statistics are not often an accurate guide to the Briton's true form. Johnson, who has an allergy to sand, does have a habit of producing her best jump at her final attempt.

And she does have another colourful card up her sleeve - well, not sleeve exactly.

She is planning to continue wearing the fishnet stockings she jumped in at the Olympics and has used to set a series of personal bests.

"The fishnet stockings are definitely making a comeback this season," beamed Johnson.

"It's a superstition thing now because every time I've not worn them I've jumped poorly.

"The only problem is I like to match. I'd like to wear pink or yellow fishnets but unless my kit matches then I'll have to go for laid-back colours.

"The main thing is if I jump really well I'll have them on all season, whatever the colour."

Johnson edges out rival Sotherton
12 Feb 05 |  Athletics
Johnson fit for European trials
04 Feb 05 |  Athletics

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