This is part 2 of the feature on Naomi Metzger, written by Stuart Weir, who competed in the World Athletics Championships, 2022 European Athletics Championships, and the Commonwealth Games 2022.
Naomi Metzger part 2
When Naomi Metzger won the GB championship triple jump in 2022, it was the fifth time she had been a GB champion but had yet to make an impact outside of the UK. Her only senior championship had seen her reach the final of the European Championship in 2018 and finish 12th. All that was to change in 2022 when she was third in the Commonwealth Games and sixth in the European Championship. She entered 2022 with a PR of 14.22m, a distance that she surpassed seven times in 2022.
What made the difference? She gives a lot of credit to her new coach, Aston Moore. She had decided to leave her native Manchester and move to Italy to work with a new coach in the winter of 2021, but it didn’t work out. She takes up the story: “2022 started quite negatively because I lost my sponsor, which made me feel that I wasn’t good enough, especially as the sponsorship was canceled after just one year. I almost wanted to stop competing because it’s difficult when you don’t have that support behind you. I had been training in Italy, but I made the decision to leave Italy, and I rang Aston Moore. I told Aston how I felt, that I wasn’t sure I could continue athletics because I wasn’t enjoying it. I was enjoying competing but felt that I wasn’t being supported. He asked me to give it two more years and to come to train at Loughborough. As soon as I started with a new group, I recovered my love for athletics. The group were kind people and very motivating, and the coaching made sense to me. That happiness continued through the season for me. Aston was very consistent in the way he responded to different performances. Whether I jumped at 13.80m or a PB, his reaction was just the same. And that meant that I was putting less pressure on myself. A big part of the reason for my success in 2022 is joining a new training group, a group filled with positivity that gave me extra inspiration. It meant that I had a lot more self-belief this season”.
She continues, explaining what Aston gives her: “The big change with training with Aston is that I do so much more triple jumps. Before, I did a lot of drills and run-ups. But now we spent two or three sessions a week just doing repetitive triple jumps, with Aston giving me feedback on every jump until he sees what he’s looking for. I think the repetitive action really nailed it in my head what I want to achieve when I am out there in competitions. Have also been doing a lot more strength work in the gym. Trying to get my running better – a lot of technical stuff. I’m in Loughborough four days a week and do the rest of my sessions in Manchester.”
Not a lot of people know this but Naomi’s dad, Mathias Ogbeta is the Lancashire county triple jump record holder. At school, Naomi recalls that she wasn’t very good at team sports and was actually not very interested in sports. She does remember: “I was very fast and could beat the boys!” She won the Greater Manchester Schools 200m, running 25.7, but after not making the final at English Schools, she decided to look for another event and “one with fewer people doing it!”. With her dad a triple jumper, the choice was a no-brainer. She set a new GB under 17 record of 12.61m. The previous junior triple jump record holder, incidentally, was a certain Morgan Lake.
Coming back to the present, one of the things she has been working on with her coach is her approach: “My run-up is just under 38m or 18 strides. I focus on building up speed and power in the first six strides. The rest tends to be a blur, and I’m trying not to overthink the board but just to run through the board. I have been fortunate not to have many no jumps. At the Europeans, I was quite anxious about the new electronic system. To keep the speed and momentum that’s my focus with the run-up. To avoid fouls, I need to be consistent with my run-up. The first six strides are so important, and in training, Aston will put down a cone, wanting me to hit the cone five out of six run-ups. That is to keep me consistent. If I go too big on the first two strides, it messes up the flow of the whole run-up. When consistency isn’t there, that is when you start to foul.
Naomi also draws strength from her Christian faith: “I grew up in a Christian family, and faith in God is something that all my family finds super important. I would say is because of my faith in God which gave me a different mindset”.
Naomi has a hobby that earns her some money away from the track: “The main thing I do away from athletics is drawing. And I sell my pictures online. The technology is called NFT. It has been a great way to grow my fan base and raise money for my travel costs and the Lloyd Cowan and Ron Pickering Funds, which give grants to young athletes. So most days I am drawing and selling my artwork online. See the Afro Chicks collection at https://opensea.io/collection/afrochicks