At the beginning of this athletics season, pole vault star Jade Ive was still asking herself whether she wanted to continue in the sport.
However, having been crowned English champion last week, the 23-year-old Sutton & District AC star has made up her mind in no uncertain terms.
In winning the England Athletics Senior Championships, Ive set a personal best 4.10m and continued a season that had already seen her claim the Surrey Championship crown, win bronze at the Sainsbury’s British Championship and increase her personal best by 40cm.
Ive, who lives in Ewell, said: “I have not had a season like this season since 2007, when I was 16.
“I was going to Poland and India – I was on a high. But I got injured, and then I was focussed on work and trying to balance everything. Now I am more focussed on the pole vault and it has paid off.
“This year was all about seeing where I was in the event, asking myself ‘do I still love it, do I still want to put everything into it?’, and it ended up yes, and I want to give more.”
The England title came despite much trepidation and transition, let alone serious competition that meant only a personal best height would be enough.
Ive, who works as a sales executive for a catering company, said: “I had some doubt because I am moving on to a new bigger pole.
“There has been lots of transition between different poles and I managed to jump on it in training in the week before the Champs, but it was not how I wanted it so I had some doubt.
“In the actual Champs it got worse. I knocked the bar off at 3.70m at my first attempt with the old pole.
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Hitting new heights: Jade Ive in action at the England Athletics Senior Championships
“It meant I had to move on to the new pole – and I sailed over it and I thought: ‘Why haven’t I gone onto it sooner?’ She added: “When I cleared 4.10m to win, I could not believe it.
“I landed on the bed, put my hands on face because I was so shocked, everything went quiet in my mind.
“Everyone was looking at me, and I was thinking did that just happen? I was so overwhelmed. It was one of my favourite moments of my career.”
Ive now has the National Indoor Championships year in her sights, and should success be forthcoming, she acknowledges the help of those around her.
She said: “I want to thank my dad. He has been a massive support throughout the year, and we have bounced off each other. I hugely appreciate his support and encouragement.”