Jade Nimmo enjoyed gymnastics and dancing as a youngster but now her name is writ large in the Scottish athletics record books – after a quantum leap which spanned more than six metres ... and 39 years.
The 21-year-old from Falkirk, a student at Western Kentucky University, claimed the longest-standing individual record in the sport in this country over the weekend.
Jade jumped 6.47m to beat the mark set by Myra Nimmo (no relation) almost four decades ago back in 1973. Now a place in Team GB for the European Championships in Finland in July looks a possible target for the young Scot who once attended the World Youths.
Nimmo came through the ranks at Falkirk Victoria Harriers as she tried hurdles, high jump and sprinting but there’s no doubt now that long jump is her preferred discipline.
Beating the record has been a long time coming – BBC Scotland presenter Rhona McLeod tried as well as GB bobsleigh international Gillian Cooke – and Myra Ritchie was quick to offer congratulatioms to her namesake. Myra, now a Dean of Sports Science at Loughborough University, said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted my record has gone. The point is: records shouldn’t be set in stone – they are targets and goals for people to aim for and overtake.
“For ten years it is was quite nice but after 20 it was embarrassing. Thereafter I just didn’t want people mentioning it. If Jade can push on now and look to 6.55 for the European Championship qualifying standard then that would be great. The fact we share the same surname is a bizarre peculiarity.”
Jade’s coach, Darren Ritchie, shared her excitement on the other side of the Atlantic. “I was picking athletes up from the airport in Portugal for the scottishathletics training camp when Jade texted me to say she had done 6.38 in her first-round jump at the Hilltoppers Relays,” said Ritchie, the remaining Scottish men’s record holder at long jump (8.01 in 2004). “By the time I arrived at the hotel she called from Kentucky. ‘Guess what – I’ve just jumped 6.47. Now I just hope it is legal’. It was and I am absolutely thrilled for her.
“Myra’s record has been the longest-standing individual mark in Scottish athletics so there’s a bit of prestige attached there for Jade to take it. People have tried over the years but haven’t managed to better what Myra did back in 1973.
“Jade is over at Western Kentucky University and this was only her second jump of the outdoor season. We had hoped she get to around 6.45 this year so in that respect she’s almost exactly where we wanted and expected to be – a wee bit beyond it in fact! There are more meets coming up in the States soon and she has preliminary qualifiers for the NCAA championships at the start of June. So the next few weeks will be important and she will be looking to see if she can jump further. The European Championships standard is set at 6.55 so that’s only 8cm away. That might be a little bit more realistic than the B standard for the Olympics which is set at 6.65.
“Shara Proctor already has the standard for both the Olympics and the Europeans, so in some ways it might be affected by the plans of other people. At the moment, Jade will just try and see if she can beat her own record. She operates in quite a relaxed atmosphere in the States and we have to remember she is still an under-23 athlete. At the weekend, she actually did high jump and ran a 100m sprint relay leg before her record long jump. It was just a case of what the timetable allowed. I think she’s capable of multi events down the line, but we believe she is best to specialise at the moment.”