It’s a huge year for Luton AC, supported by Luton Rotary Club, javelin thrower Jo Blair with the prospect of a place in the GB Olympic team at the forefront of her mind.
The 30-year-old, who has been a member of the club for three years now, is currently ranked third in the UK, with a PB of 54.57m achieved in July last year, giving her genuine hope of making the 62m standard needed to qualify for the Olympics.
On her ambition of representing her country on the biggest stage in Rio de Janeiro, Blair, who has experience of competing for England in an international meeting last year, said: “I hope so, it would be massive, be huge.
“You need to get 62m, but it depends on the field too, as if you are in the top 32 in the world, you will be in, so I’ve just got to try and do it.
“If I can carry on with this routine, not over-working and keeping a balance of work and training, then with a bit of luck, I will get there.
“It’s all about striking that balance and with the Olympics coming up, it’s a massive boost to get out of bed and train and makes you think you have to put in the extra effort.”
As well as the Olympics, Blair, who is 12th on the all-time list of British javelin throwers, is also targeting the European Championships held in Amsterdam during July, plus a host of other domestic events.
While longer term, the World Championships in London next year remain high on her to-do list too, as she continued: “We’re trying to work out where to start from but I want to do some warm weather training first in Cyprus, then look at the Loughborough International in May to start with.
“Then you’ve got British Championships, that are also the Olympic trials, the European Cup if you get selected, then the UK Women’s League, and then Southern Area League, which is under Luton AC, plus the East Anglian League.
“I try to support all the Luton competitions, but as this is Olympic year, I’m going to be more selective on what I go to and attend.
“I’m looking at the European Championships if I can in Amsterdam, where qualifying for that is 60m and the World Championships next year too, so it’s not just all about this season.”
Although Blair knows she has to improve her PB to make such top-flight events, she is confident with a new training regime, such distances are within her capabilities.
She said: “Going into competition I want to at least get a PB to start off with then just climb up the ladder to get the goal of hitting 60m, so anything else is a bonus.
“At the end of winter, I went out and was throwing 52m which was good for me at that time of year.
“That was based on not a lot of my winter training, so I’m hoping to add another 10 per cent on to that, which is at least 57m, and then I can try to get nearer 60m.
“Last year I added on 10 per cent on to my previous best, that was when I was working a lot of hours, so I’m hoping that having reduced my travel to work I can increase that again by at least another 10 per cent.
“I’ve increased my training twice as much too, as I do a session early morning and then an evening session, so my training average has gone up quite a lot as well.
“Last year, I was hitting 42-45m in training, that’s now gone up to 47-50m plus.
“I look at injuries too as I’m not injured. Usually this time of year I have some kind of niggle and that’s not the case.”
Much of the reason behind her improved fitness is down to Luton AC, where she is coached by Dave Burrell.
Blair, who works as a sports masseuse in Legrave, has broken the club’s javelin record by 22m since joining and added: “I turned to Dave when I was injured so he’s completely helped me that. I had back injuries, shoulder, hip and loads of ankle sprains, he’s taken my technique right down and changed it all for me.
“I need to thank Luton AC for everything they’ve done for me as it helps me greatly that they’re trying to get me as high as I can in the sport.
“Any sponsorship that I can get though would go a long way to help me achieve my dream too, any equipment or kit is always appreciated.”