Interview by David Griffiths - Manx Open 2007
5 years ago, Johanna Jackson had never taken part in a race walking event. Such has been her spectacular progress since that she has risen to the rank of number 1 female race walker in the UK in both 2005 and 2006. Formerly a talented runner, Jo, who is now 22 years of age, represented England at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne finishing 7th in the women's 20k Walk. She has also represented Great Britain at both European and World level, and has a burning ambition to take part in the Olympic Games in the future. As part of her preparations for the 2007 season, she makes her first visit to the Isle of Man to take part in the 20k walk at the Manx Open Meeting. She kindly agreed to take time out of her demanding schedule to be interviewed for the Manx Harriers website
Leamington Grand Prix June 2006 (photo courtesy of Shelley Walsh - Shelley Walsh's Website)
DG - Jo, I know this will be the first time you will have competed on the Isle of Man, but have you ever been to the island before – and do you know anything about the island?
JJ - No I’ve never been to the island before and I unfortunately know very little about it. My sister has competed there before. I’m looking forward to coming over to compete there. The walkers I have met from the Isle of Man have all been very friendly.
DG - What made you decide to take part in this year’s Manx Open Meeting, and do you have any particular targets for your race?
JJ - Last year I wanted to compete but unfortunately it was a bit close to the Commonwealth Games for me. The race will be my first 20km of this year and will be part of my build up to the European Cup. My target in the race will be at the very least to equal my PB, weather permitting!
DG - Several members of your family are travelling to the Isle of Man to support you, and indeed some are competing in the 10k run. It seems that athletics runs in the family!
JJ - Yes my whole family is very involved in athletics. My sister, brother and dad all regularly compete for their clubs. My mum used to compete at long endurance events, but now her time is taken up with coaching and officiating and she is also track and field secretary for our local harrier league. My dad is also a marksman.
DG - What are your plans for the 2007 season – and beyond?
JJ - My main aim for this season is to gain the qualifying time, of 99mins, for the Under 23 European Championships. I would hope to get close to that qualifying time at the European Cup in Leamington, this would improve my overall race position from the previous European Cup in Hungary. My main focus for the future is the 2012 Olympics.
DG - What are your current pb times for each distance?
JJ - 3km (track) - 13min 15s;
5km (track) - 22min 46s
10km - 47min 25s
20km - 101min 00s
DG - You have achieved tremendous success already in a relatively short race walking career. When and how did you first get involved in race walking?
JJ - I started in 2002, John Paddick (former Olympic race walker) was encouraging athletes to give race walking a try. I like a challenge so decided to have a go at it before specialising in a particular event.
Johanna with her mentor John Paddick 1964 Olympian at the RWA 20K championships Sheffield April 2006
(photo courtesy of Shelley Walsh)
DG - You are a member of the relatively new Redcar Race Walking Club, which was only formed about 3 years ago. The club has achieved many successes in a short space of time – is there any secret as to why the club is doing so well?
JJ - Yes the club has been doing well. Most people from the club have come from a running background like myself.
DG – Yes, you actually did enjoy considerable success as a runner before you got more seriously involved with race walking. Do you still compete in any running events, and how much of a part does running play in your training schedule?
JJ - I still really enjoy competing in cross-country events but can’t compete at the same level as before. My total weekly volume of running has now been reduced to 30%. I compete for my club at league and county level and no longer consider national events to be part of my competition plan.
DG - Can you describe a ‘typical’ week’s training on the build-up to a major event?
JJ - A typical week of training before a major competition