Jax hopes to vault onto Glasgow podium

Jax Thoirs may be competing in his first major athletics championship at Glasgow 2014, but he is without a doubt one of Team Scotland's strongest athletics hopefuls at the games.

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Jax Thoirs
Jax Thoirs

The Jordanhill athlete was formerly a gymnast before taking up athletics and competing with local Glasgow club Victoria Park.

At the age of 14 he took up the pole vault and since then he has never looked back.

Following the indoor season, Jax seemed to be pleased with his preparations leading up to the games.

He said: "Things seem to be going well.

"I had a solid indoor season jumping an indoor personal best of 5.50m and now I'm getting started with my outdoor season."

He added: "Last week I jumped 5.35m and was feeling great and then my pole snapped on my next jump, but luckily I got away from that without any injury.

"I would like to take things to the next level and jump at least 5.60m before the games."

The pole vault is very much a specialist event and the poles themselves can cost around £500.

Therefore an athlete's coach and training regime is vital if they want to taste success in the event.

Jax currently resides in the United States and is studying at Washington University.

He feels that his move to the US has helped to improve both his training and performances.

Jax said: "It's helped a lot.

"I am in competitions with great pole vaulters regularly here which is crucial if you want to improve yourself.

"Having a great group of people to train with as well as a great coach helps me keep enjoying the sport and working hard in training.

"In America, pole vaulting 5.50m is way less of a big deal as it is in Scotland, so I think being here has also helped keep me hungry for more."

Jax strongly believes his current training programme works for him. He said: "Training has been pretty much the same as last year.

"I improved a foot last year doing the same stuff I'm doing now so if it ain't broke don't fix it."

Pole vault is viewed as being one of the most technically difficult events in track and field.

Every athlete in any event will face individual difficulties, and Jax is no exception to this.

He said: "For me being tall, pole vaulting is really hard on my back so I have to constantly work on my back to keep it from hurting.

"The mental side of pole vaulting is also very difficult.

"It can be scary trying to jump on bigger poles, and hard to stay relaxed when you can see the bar right in front of you when you're running down the runway."

The Scottish pole vaulter's sights are firmly set on the National Collegiate Athletic Association athletics season before he returns to compete in the UK.

He also hopes to compete in the Diamond League, which will take place at Hampden.

Although Jax is a medal hopeful, he will face stiff competition from other country's athletes, including those from the Home Nations.

Jax is under no illusions that winning a medal in Glasgow will be easy.

He said: "Steve Lewis from England is going to be the hardest competitor for me to compete against, because he was always the best in Britain when I was younger so it's going to hard to see him as a rival instead of looking up to him."

"Shawnacy Barber from Canada is also a great pole vaulter, and he is an NCAA rival for me as well so I see him at a lot of big competitions."

"And obviously Luke Cutts from England had a great indoor season so he'll be hard to beat."

As was seen with British athletes in London 2012, a home crowd can make a massive difference to competitors.

Jax thinks having the Games in Glasgow will allow him to produce his best performances.

He said: "I think a big competition like a Commonwealth Games is a special thing to be a part of wherever they are.

"This is going to be my first major competition as a senior athlete and to have it in my home city is going to be amazing.

"I think the support in Hampden is going to give me that edge to allow me to go out and compete at my best."

When asked what his aims were for the Games, he confidently replied: "I want to win."

With events as technical as the pole vault anything can happen on the day; so there is nothing to say that this young Glaswegian cannot claim gold with the support of the 45,000 strong crowd inside Hampden.

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