Zara Tyas is jumping to new heights on the athletics field

·3-min read
From fun runs to training with Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Niamh Emerson, Honley high jumper Zara Tyas has gone from one end of the track to another.

From fun runs to training with Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Niamh Emerson, Honley high jumper Zara Tyas has gone from one end of the track to another.

The 19-year-old now trains and studies at Loughborough University after climbing through the ranks at her local club, Holmfirth Harriers, in just four years.

And the heptathlon hopeful, who has been selected to be part of the Team England Futures programme with Commonwealth Games England and SportsAid, has her sights set on following in the footsteps of Emerson.

"I started off just doing cross country running and then in the summer I would do athletics camps, but [Harriers] have not really got proper facilities, so if we were high jumping we were just on some grass with a mat and a bar," said Tyas.

"When I first started I was just having fun with it and didn't take it too seriously. I was just going and enjoying a bit of high jump.

"Now I get to train with Niamh which is pretty crazy because when I was younger I loved her and now I'm training with her.

"So I think that's such an inspiration for me. I can turn up to every training session and just watch what she does and follow her example really."

While she previously had to travel over an hour to Manchester or Sheffield to access facilities and coaches, Tyas now only has a two minute jaunt to the track at Loughborough.

She said: "Here, I go to the track and there's so many elite athletes and you've always got to bring your A game at training, it's just such a good environment and everyone's pushing each other. It's just really inspiring seeing everyone at the track.

"We did a running session last week and Katarina Johnson-Thompson was there on the track. And she even came out and was watching our session and chatting to our coach.

"So just having things like that, it's just so inspiring seeing what she's done and we are using the same facilities and training alongside her.”

The Team England Futures programme will see over 1,000 talented young athletes and aspiring support staff given the opportunity to attend the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, watch live sporting action and take a first-hand look behind-the-scenes.

The programme seeks to better prepare athletes to deliver medal-winning performances as either Team England, Team GB or ParalympicsGB debutants at future Games, while also giving support staff a first-hand look at the opportunities they could be presented with, as well as challenges they may face, at a multi-sport competition.

Tyas produced a new personal best high jump of 1m 80cm last year and after getting the chance to don the Great Britain kit for the first time, she is now looking towards the World Championships and Paris 2024 with the backing of SportsAid funding.

She added: "It was such a major step in my athletics career because that's when I realised that I want to do this seriously and I can do this properly and it's not just a little hobby.

"I remember at the time that I was so nervous just because I had the kit on and I had to do so good just because I was wearing it. I think it brought out the best in me as well.

"I'm training in a multi-events group at the moment, working on heptathlon but my main goal for this season is to go to worlds for high jump.

"I think everyone has a dream to make an Olympics but there's a reason that I'm doing this. I want to make it and I want to go to the Olympics."

Commonwealth Games England has appointed SportsAid to lead on the development, management and operational delivery of Team England Futures at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. You can find out more about the programme by visiting https://www.sportsaid.org.uk/partnerships/team-england-futures/.

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