Martina closes out her season with a wonderful 5th place at World Para-Athletics Championships
Martina Barber is an F20 Long Jumper whose eyes all season have been set on competing at the IAAF World Para Athletics Championships in November 2019. The announcement of her selection last month marks a fulfilment of one of her biggest goals of the season. The championships are not only a great opportunity to perform and test herself on the world stage, but will also serve as a stepping stone in her preparation for Tokyo, where she hopes to secure a medal. The vital championship experience she will gain in Dubai later this year will prove useful next year when she steps out on the biggest stage of all.
The past two seasons have seen Barber follow a largely upward trajectory. In 2018 her season was highlighted by a 4th place finish at the European Para Athletics Championships, a performance which left Barber with a taste for success which propelled her into an exciting 2019. A true championship performer, Barber brought out her best performance of the year thus far at the Mencap National Championships, where she set a new personal best of 5.32. Her mark was a championship best performance, and puts her 5th on the current World rankings. With her ability to perform when it counts clear, this means there is all to play for at the upcoming World Championships.
Perhaps even more assuring is the degree of jumping consistency that Barber has found throughout 2019, where she has jumped over 5m nine times. Prior to this, she had only exceeded the 5m mark six times in her whole career. In the context of an increasingly competitive F20 Long Jump, this level of consistency at a high level bodes very well for the Stevenage & North Herts athlete in the build-up to the forthcoming major championships.
Martina, and her mum Allison, told us that being a Jean Pickering Olympic Scholar has been invaluable because the funding has eased their financial burden in a wealth of different areas. She has been able to have weekly physiotherapy, sports massage and strength and conditioning coaching. Barber has also used the funding to ensure she is wearing the best spikes, and to cover her coach’s travel expenses to competitions. All of these aspects are essential for her to produce her best performances.
Though still young, Barber is ambitious and optimistic about her prospects next year. She describes feeling “determined to work even harder (in the face of a rising F20 Long Jump standard) to not only go to Dubai but be a part of Team GB in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, and bring back a medal.” 2019 so far suggests that she is certainly on the right path to achieving her goals, and there is eager anticipation to see what she can accomplish next!
Since this article was first written and published in Athletics Weekly, Martina has competed at the World Para-Athletics Championships where she finished in a creditable 5th place with a mark of 5.20m, just shy of her season’s best of 5.32m.
In what proved to be a very successful Championships for the British Team with many athletes coming back with medals across all events, hopefully this supports her claim for selection for Tokyo2020as part of TeamGB, where places will be very hard to come by. Martina and her coach will be focusing on making good improvements over the winter to give her the best possible chance of selection. We wish her well.