Long jump star Fifteen year old Esme O’Connell now has World Champion to add to her list of accolades. The Chorleywood teenager already had an enviable collection of national bronze and gold medals to her name but this latest award is the cream … Esme competed for Great Britain at the Junior World Para Athletics Championships in Nottwil, Switzerland in early August and won Gold in the under 18’s F20 Long Jump.
Celebrations have been happening in the O’Connell household ever since and Esme has just been enjoying the attention. Uncle Jim Spence was so impressed with her achievement that he wrote a ditty and serenaded the family party last month, singing to the tune of ???
… There’s a superstar living in the hood
Esme O’ Connell is her name and she’s always in the Winners Frame
Long jump World Champion she became at the Under 18 World para Games
When she jumps across the sand you wonder where she is going to land
And when she runs she’s just a blur – no one can keep up with her…
It was when Esme was in the final year of Russell School that the family realised her sporting potential.
“Esme had epilepsy at the age of three which left her with learning disabilities so she was academically behind her peers at school” says Mum Vanessa, “She had always been speedy but when she left her friends standing in a Sports Day race we were so happy that she had found something she really excelled in.”
Esme no longer suffers from epilepsy but struggles daily with things others take for granted. Athletics has become a passion and she trains twice a week in sprint training and long jump at Dacorum and Tring Athletics Club, and now also travels to Bedford International Athletics Stadium once a week where she has her main long jump training with an elite coach. It’s a long journey, in the rush hour but Esme loves every minute. Next month the sessions will continue indoors for the winter months. Often up against much taller girls, many built like Olympians, she doesn’t always realise her own ability. There seems to be no stopping her!”
Esme returned to The Russell School a few weeks ago to show her medal, GB kit and spikes – the head teacher demonstrated Esme’s personal best distance of 4.51m to the children by using metre rulers on the floor. When asked how she does it, Esme replied “I just run as fast as I can, and as high as I can!”