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Jamie Webb (centre) winning Men's 1500m at BUCS Outdoor Athletics. Bedford, May 2016

No break in Olympic ambitions for MMU graduate

  • Having just missed out on competing at the trials for GB Athletics and a chance to compete at Rio 2016 due to an injury caused by a fractured foot, you’d think Jamie Webb would be down-beaten.
  • He couldn’t be further away from the typical melancholy defeatism you’d normally associate with someone who’s had the past few months Jamie had: juggling an undergrad in Chemistry (he graduated with a 2:1) with training to become a professional-level runner, followed by the devastating fracture, which prevented him from participating in the trials. 
  • Instead, I found a surprising amount of inspiring optimism for the future when I spoke to the rising star.

NQ: What were your emotions when you first got selected for the 2016 Olympics trials?

JW: Once I got the top two, I was really happy with getting that part of the selection done, but it was just unfortunate that I missed out on the time [I set out to get]. It was a really good experience, and hopefully in four years’ time, this experience will give me an advantage when I go for the next trials!

NQ: What was the first thing which went through your head when you knew you were injured?  Did you know it was going to be a serious injury?

JW: Well, I got injured a week before trials, and with the trials being so close, I tried to forget about it. I ran on it for three weeks, which didn’t do it any favours! But after the Euro’s, it was like: “Right, I need to stop now, and just get everything better and fixed.” I’m just in the rehab phase at the moment.

NQ: And how’s that going?    

JW: It’s going alright. I’m working with a British Athletics doctor and physio, so it’s going well. I’m coming up to three weeks now, and it’s about eight weeks until I’m allowed to run again.

But I’m cross-training, I’m in the pool and cycling, so it’s not too boring; but the first few weeks on crutches were boring as hell!

It’s just a case of weight-loading now, as it’s a fracture in my foot, just a case of gradually introducing more weight to it. So, it’s just a long process!

NQ: Are you just taking it slow then, building your strength back up?

JW: Yeah, exactly. We’ve got a bit more time before the next big event, which is the European Indoors in March. So if I’m sensible now, hopefully I can build up my strength slowly and get fit in the pool. Hopefully I’ll have a strong winter, leading up to the Indoors next year and also the World Championships in London next summer.

NQ: Are you confident you’ll be able to get straight back into it?

JW: Yeah, I mean hopefully there’ll be no complications with my injury. It’s just a case of being patient. As long as I am patient with it, I should be back running by September and then back on full training by October, and hopefully get a good winter under my belt. That’s the plan anyway!

NQ: What’s been harder: training for Rio or concentrating on your studies?

JW: This year has been a really tough balance. I’ve not actually been living in Manchester so I’ve been travelling in which has been tiring, but I’ve coped. Sometimes I would go from home to Manchester, up to Liverpool, and then back to home.

Literally some days I would leave at 7 in the morning and get home at 9 at night, it was crazy!

I don’t know if I can say one’s been harder, but I’d probably say the studying has been harder. Then again, it’s getting home and finding the motivation to go and train. But it’s been balancing the both I’d say.

I’m going on to do a Masters, but I’m doing it part-time, which will allow me a lot more flexibility to get involved in training camps. So I can train like a professional for a few years and see where that takes me. 

NQ: How do you find the time to fit all this in, are you some sort of super-human?

JW: [Laughs] Well, my [undergrad] degree has been quite full time, but my MA is part-time, so it gives me 2-5 years to complete it.

I quite like having something else to think about, if that makes sense?

Running can be so intense sometimes, that you can spend so much time thinking about it, so it’s quite nice to have something to take your mind off it, which is the theory behind my masters. Obviously it keeps me employable as well! 

If I do make it as a professional, then running can only pay the wages so long.

NQ: So, where do you see yourself in ten years then? A scientist or a professional athlete?

JW: Well, in ten years I’ll probably be coming to the end of my running career! [laughs]

NQ: We’ll refine that down to five years then!

JW: Well I’d like to be a full time athlete. That’s my goal. That’s what my plan is for the next few years.

I’ll do my Masters, and then at the end of that I can decide if I’m good enough to go professional. If I am, then I’ll do that, and do that for as long as I can. If not, I’ve always got my science side of things. I’ll end up pursuing that at some point.  

NQ: Any advice for young, aspiring athletes who also want to continue their studies?

JW: I can’t emphasise enough how important the academic side it. It’s such a physical sport.

Obviously work hard, train hard, but have something else on the side. Don’t just be a runner.

It’s easy to get carried away and think: “Yeah, I’m going to just be a runner,” but as soon as you’re injured, your whole world can fall apart and it’s great to have something to fall back on.

Keep your mind active! It doesn’t have to be about running all the time.

NQ: Would you say your studies have helped you mentally get over your injury?

JW: Yeah, knowing I’m going down to Loughborough continuing my studies, and knowing I’ve got my next phase planned with my undergrad under my belt, I feel really relaxed with my running.

I feel like I’m in a better place now knowing I’ve got everything in place to become a better athlete.

If it does happen, then it happens. If it doesn’t, then I’m going to come out the end of it with a Masters.

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