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parsons gearing up for a big 2014

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Tom Parsons

Last week we made our way to Longbridge, on the south side of Birmingham, to visit the home of our new sponsor MG Motor. We were joined on a tour of the plant by high jumpers Tom Parsons and Robbie Grabarz who both talked with excitement about the rebirth of the plant and its ambition to reach new heights.

Born and raised in Birmingham, Tom commented: “I used to go to school in the area and I remember it being a big grey concrete block and didn’t think much about it. When it disappeared I realised how many people it affected in the local area.

“People who I worked with at Aston University were ex-Longbridge workers and it hit home then how important it was to the city. It’s good that the history and tradition hasn’t just disappeared completely and hopefully MG can continue to grow year by year and become a resurgent brand. It’s good that they’re linking in with British Athletics and they’ll get their brand showcased at these big events.”

Back on the track, the Birchfield Harrier competed at the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix last weekend in front of a home crowd and is pleased his indoor season has been a success thus far.

“Birmingham was a busy environment, like the World Indoors will be, with a lot going on but it’s a great place to jump and you couldn’t ask for a better facility or a better crowd! I’m excited because I’m jumping reasonably well again. Last year’s indoor season bypassed me a little bit and I’d like to put on a bit of a show for my home crowd. I want to jump as high as possible.”

Tom’s performance in Sheffield at the Sainsbury’s British Athletics Indoor Championships earned him a recall to the GB & NI team for the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Poland next month where he will be joined by Grabarz in their last real test before the outdoor season. But with both the Commonwealth Games and the European Championships on the cards this summer, Parsons said they are definitely his ultimate goals.

“Getting to the championships isn’t going to be easy, but once you’re there, you’ve always got a chance. It only takes one good day, especially in high jump as people in the past have shown. It’s probably harder to be consistent in our event because it’s so technical but take Germaine [Mason] for instance – in 2007 he didn’t even make the final at the World Champs, but a year later he became Olympic silver medallist! That was his moment. Greg [Rutherford] took his opportunity in London, and I’m not saying I’m going to win or anything, but you can just have these one off moments.

“I’ve just got to try and get close to my best. I’ve PB’d at the World Championships before and made the Olympic final, so I know I’m competitive and can compete at these big events, it’s just a matter of hoping that you’re at your best on the day.”

We also asked him what impact, if any, a home crowd will have in Glasgow come the men’s high jump final on Wednesday 30 July.

“I’ve always put pressure on myself to jump high and I do it for myself, not for other people, but the home crowd has got to be an advantage. You feel more loved when you’re out there, but you’re so in the zone and focussed on jumping the best that you can. Having it in a familiar environment though, as opposed to somewhere like Delhi [the Commonwealth Games venue in 2010] where you were getting giant moths hitting you in the face, should certainly help!

“The Scottish crowd are always good. I usually do pretty well in domestic competitions, and that is probably because you feel more warmth from the crowd and feel you’re more obliged to fight even harder for them!”