The runway between Rio and Gold Coast 2018 has been far from easy, but Chelsea Jaensch showed plenty of fighting spirit to jump a wind-assisted 6.60m at the Carlee Beattie Shield on Saturday at QSAC.
While the jump, which took out the women’s high performance competition, was just 5cm from a Commonwealth Games A qualifier with the wind at +2.8, Jaensch will take a lot of confidence from it leading up to February’s Australian Championships at Carrara Stadium.
“I surprised myself today,” the 32-year-old admitted having exceeded her own expectations. “Sixteen months between Rio and now and three months of training. I have high expectations of myself and certainly didn’t think I was there but there’s a lot of things that I’ve got to work on and I’m looking forward to doing that in the early part of next year.
“I’m just really, really happy with how things are progressing,” Jaensch added, brimming with a mix of relief and confidence.
Jaensch finished ahead of Lauren Wells who jumped an equally impressive 6.54m (w2.6) with Tay-Leiha Clark in third at 6.34m (NWI). Naa Anang, who’s already nailed an A qualifier, was next best at 6.28m (w1.5) with Annie McGuire at 6.11m (w2.1). Jessie Harper rounded out the field at 5.8 (w1.4).
In the men's competition, Darcy Roper jumped a solid 7.86m (w4.5) to finish ahead of Shemaiah James 7.74m (w2.1), and Jeremy Andrews with a 7.73m (w4.4).
The foot Jaensch fractured before the Rio Olympic Games finally became free of a rouge bone fragment in January this year. Knee tendinitis and arthritis followed, testing the Adelaide-based athlete. Twelve months ago, Jaensch moved back to Adelaide for better family support and now travels back to Brisbane every few weeks for a few days at a time to check in with long-time coach, the legendary Gary Bourne. The commute is clearly agreeing with Jaensch, enjoying the social outlet her trips back to Brisbane also provide.
“Because Chelsea understands our system pretty well, and she’s an older athlete and quite committed it seems to be working okay,” said Bourne. “If you had a lot of changes to make it would be more difficult but she’s got a pretty good technical model together and so it’s just a matter of fine-tuning that and working on fitness, strength, and a few other things. She’s a little bit older and partially injured athlete so it’s managing all this stuff for her as well. She’s got some foot stuff that’s not going to get better.”
Saturday’s result was enough to make Bourne think there was more to come from Jaensch over the next few months, with a highly competitive group of athletes sure to spur each other on in the hope of Gold Coast 2018 selection.
“It’s exciting for us,” he said. “Brooke [Stratton] arrives tomorrow so she’s in rehab of course but we’re hoping Brooke will get herself back as well and with all of these girls, Brooke, Chelsea, Naa [Anang], Lauren [Wells], Tay-Leiha Clark – there’s a good bundle of long jump girls we’ve got. It’s good for the future.”
It’s a premise that Jaensch certainly agrees with.
“It’s going to be very competitive,” she said. “It’s so great to see Loz’ out here having fun but also improving every week she jumps. It’s just a friendly reminder to us to keep on our game and come nationals everyone’s going to be really hungry for a spot.
Given Anang and Stratton both have A qualifiers, competition to confirm selection for Gold Coast 2018 at February’s national championships will be fierce. It goes without saying that Jaensch has one message for anyone not already on board: “Watch women’s long jump, it’s going to be amazing.”