Worcester's Joel Clarke-Khan watched Birmingham’s revamped Alexander Stadium being constructed - and now wants to start building his own high jump legacy there this summer.
It is now just 100 days until the Commonwealth Games start in the second city, with a Team England spot this summer Clarke-Khan’s main goal for 2022.
Athletics action will take place at the now-40,000 seater Alexander Stadium - where the 22-year-old regularly trains - and he believes he can secure a place after safely navigating the challenge in front of him.
“The Commonwealths is the main goal this year. It’s very achievable and it’s what I’ve been aiming for ever since I was a bit younger,” he said.
“2022 as a 22-year-old is the perfect age to get your name on that world standings. It being in front of a home crowd, I think it’s the perfect opportunity to really kickstart my career as a professional athlete.
“The opportunity is a once in a lifetime opportunity, not only to have a home Games but to be at the Alexander Stadium where I train three or four times a week. I’ve been watching it be built from the floor upwards.
“That is my home, that is where my foundations of athletics are. I’ve got to take every opportunity to be there and be embraced by everything that comes with it as this doesn’t really happen often.
“The standard, I’m more than capable of jumping that. The deadline is close. I’ll have about four weeks to do it from when I start competitions, so about four competitions.
“I do think that I’ll be looking at a 2.30m jump this season if I’m being optimistic. I don’t like to put numbers and times on things, I like to follow the process and trust it - but if you wanted to know exactly what my head’s that, that’s what I’m thinking at the moment.”
Clarke-Khan’s career is financially supported by a partnership between Entain – owner of Ladbrokes and Coral – and SportsAid, set up in 2019 and part of the company’s innovative Pitching In initiative.
His confidence is fuelled by a coaching change which took place last winter, after realising he was not being pushed to his full potential.
He now works with Robbie Grabarz, the joint-British high jump record holder and a former European champion and Olympic silver medallist.
Clarke-Khan said: “I think he’s [Grabarz] the most amazing person in the world. I’m having, I’d say, the time of my life working with him.
“I don’t think there’s another person on this planet that I would rather be working with than him. Every session with him is just like gold dust. Every word that comes out of his mouth is so valuable to me, and I just have the utmost respect for him as he is everything that I am trying to be.
“He’s done everything that I am trying to do. Not only that, we’re very similar jumpers in terms of our body shape and composition, our style of jumping.
“We just have a really good connection out there on the training track.”
Entain, owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. Visit entaingroup.com to find out more.