Athletics: Moore aims to end leap year with double gold

Faces to follow in 2002: Son of top coach rapidly becoming more famous than father in two disciplines
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The Independent Online

As personal coach to Ashia Hansen, Britain's world indoor triple jump record holder, Aston Moore has become used to frequent enquiries from the British press. But in the course of the last year the former Commonwealth bronze medallist triple jumper has been dealing with supplementary questions on another bright talent of his acquaintance – his son Jonathan.

Moore Jnr has been making people sit up and take notice since taking up triple and long jumping four years ago, at the age of 13. In 2000, he became the first under 17-year-old to clear 16 metres in the triple jump. And last season the Birmingham student took another giant leap up the rankings as he added 30cm to his triple jump best with 16.32m, won a silver medal in the European Junior Championships and then won gold at the IAAF's World Youth Championships.

This season he has two main aims, which he is more than happy to talk about. He wants two golds from the World Junior Championships, at triple and long jump, and he wants to compete in the Commonwealth Games long jump, with a view to breaking the British record of 8.23 metres that has stood to the 1964 Olympic champion Lynn Davies since 1968.

"The world juniors have to be my main goal because I only have one more attempt at them. The Commonwealths are more of an extra – a little taster of senior competition that Ted is allowing me to do."

Ted is Ted King, who coached Britain's former triple jumper Keith Connor from being a junior athlete to an Olympic bronze medallist. The decision was made right from the start of Moore's career that King should guide his fortunes. Dad might offer the odd word of advice, but he is careful to stay within the general guidelines that King has set down. "Jonathan's potential is phenomenal," said King at the end of last season. "The heavy-duty stuff begins this winter. Then it's watch out world."

Accordingly, Moore has been putting in the work on the weights over the Christmas period. "I'm coping with it," he said. "It's what I need to do to get better."

What is also likely to maintain his upward mobility is his mental approach. "Jonathan was very pleased with what happened last year," Aston Moore said. "But he was probably not so pleased with a couple of things. He's a highly competitive guy, and it didn't matter that the competitor who beat him in the European Juniors was No 1 in the under-20 age group. He didn't like coming second."

The other relative disappointment for Moore was his failure to clear eight metres in the long jump, something he twice missed out on by two centimetres.

The second narrow miss was hardly down to him, however. Competing at a junior international in France, he pointed out to the meeting organisers that he was likely to jump dangerously close to the end of the pit because the take-off board was only a metre away from it, rather than the three metres which is standard for senior competition.

The organisers remained deaf to the pleas of the English team management, and Moore duly proved his point, recording 7.98m with his first jump and then being forced to turn his legs in mid-air to avoid hitting the pit's edge before withdrawing from the competition. "It was frustrating, because I knew I could have jumped further," he said. Juniors aren't expected to jump as far as Moore does.

As he surveys the British scene in his two events, two contrasting courses of action recommend themselves. The triple jump is bursting with talents, headed by the Olympic champion Jonathan Edwards and the two men who also reached the final in Sydney two years ago, Phillips Idowu and Larry Achike. But the long jump offers a clear field, save for the notable exception of his Birchfield clubmate Nathan Morgan, who is also coached by King.

"Jonathan will be doing more triple jumps in the junior section this year," said his father, "but from a senior point of view the long jump is a more realistic target this year. In the triple jump he's got to wait for Jonathan Edwards to pack up, and that could be in a few more years. Then he's also got to get up to speed with Idowu and Achike and the others. He doesn't like playing second fiddle to anyone. So he's looking to the long jump for his kudos this season."

The prospect of adding 25cm to his best in Manchester this summer does not worry Moore. "I am sure I can do that if things go well for me," he said. "I don't want to jinx it too much, but I can see the British record there. Anyway, I need to be jumping that kind of distance to win or medal." He needs to win or medal to start sharing some of the limelight with another of his Birchfield clubmates, 18-year-old Mark Lewis-Francis, whose prodigious rise through the world sprint rankings last season precipitated him to worldwide fame.

"I've known Mark since he was 13 and we were competing together in the McDonald's League," Moore said. "When he was my age our achievements were exactly the same. He was second in the European juniors and won the World Youth title. His event gets more attention than mine, though. Even though we have got two world record holders in the jumping events, I think most people would rather see someone run quick than jump far."

Moore's task, in the years to come, is to persuade some of those people to shift their focus. "I will just have to go out there and win a gold medal or break a world record to make people take notice," he says. Don't bet against it.

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