British long jumper starts 2020 in fine form ahead of this weekend’s Müller Grand Prix in Glasgow after coaching switch to four-time world champion Phillips

Lorraine Ugen is now coached by long jump legend Dwight Phillips in Atlanta and she has enjoyed a promising start to the year. At the Clemson Invitational earlier last month she leapt 6.74m – further than she managed during the whole of 2019 – which shows she is getting back to the seven-metre form she demonstrated in 2018.

The 28-year-old Londoner is among the competitors for the Müller Indoor Grand Prix in Glasgow on Saturday (February 15) where she will face world and European indoor champion Ivana Spanovic of Serbia and fellow Brits Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Abigail Irozuru.

On her coaching switch from Shawn Jackson to Phillips, Ugen told AW: “Dwight was a great athlete and when I was considering moving coaches I wanted to make sure that I choose a coach that either had experience coaching an athlete to a world or Olympic medal or had experience physically doing it themselves, so that they could pass on the knowledge to me on how to also do it myself!

“Dwight has won many medals in his career and the coaching set up he has in Atlanta seemed to be a good fit for me. I have quality training partners, access to facilities I need around Atlanta and physio treatment that I need! In Atlanta I feel like I have a team around me, so I’ve been very happy with the move so far.”

Phillips, 42, won Olympic gold in Athens in 2004 plus four outdoor world titles and jumped 8.74m during his superb career representing the United States.

Ugen adds: “Of course you do all the training and it’s always going be nerve racking to see if the move really paid off, even when I’m with the same coach every season I start off and think, ‘Do I still have it, did the training work this year, what has my progress been like?’ and it was nice to see that I could open up my 2020 season with a jump better than I did all of 2019!

“It shows that the training is going in the right direction and I’m getting back to the shape I need to be in this year.”

When the Olympics came to her home city of London in 2012 Ugen was an agonising one centimetre short of the qualifying standard for the Games. But she has since won medals at world and European indoor level and at the Olympics in Rio in 2016 placed 11th despite an injury-hit build-up.

Ugen hoped to compete in the World Indoor Championships in China and is disappointed it has been postponed to next year due to the coronavirus outbreak. “I was actually quite looking forward to attempting to compete at the World Indoors this year,” she says. “I missed out on competing at the last World Indoors due to injury so I was hoping this year I could be back at it.”

She adds: “My main goal of course for this year is to get on the podium in Tokyo. I think this year I’m adopting a no pressure atmosphere for myself, I’m just going to do the work I need to do and let the distances and competition rhythm come to me.”

» A longer version of this story appeared in the February 6 issue of AW magazine

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