Athletics: Regis keen to emulate big brother's feat

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The Independent Online

It remains to be seen whether Yasmine Regis has followed in her big brother's footsteps by contributing to another notable sporting promotion. When Jason Roberts scored his 21st goal of the Championship season in a 3-1 win against Reading at the JJB Stadium six weeks ago, he knew at the final whistle that he had played his part in Wigan Athletic's graduation to English football's Premiership.

Only this afternoon, when the 4x400m relay has been run in the Estadio Dr Magalhaes Pessoa, will his little sister know whether her efforts in the opening event yesterday have helped the Great Britain women's track and field team secure promotion from the First League section of the European Cup.

Unlike Roberts, who played against Reading with a broken leg, Regis managed to get through the triple jump without suffering any physical damage. She did little harm either to her reputation as one of the emerging young talents of British athletics, displaying a competitive maturity beyond her 18 years to take fifth place, a potentially vital step-up on her ranking going into the event. Having ventured marginally beyond the take-off board with her opening attempt, she sensibly erred on the side of caution with her second effort, planting her foot well behind the board to get a mark of 12.09m in the bag. She then proceeded twice to venture out to 12.82m - just 4cm short of her personal best.

"After that first attempt, I thought, 'I'm not going to mess this up'," Regis said. "At first I was a bit disappointed with 12.82m but I was told I was jumping into a two-metres-per-second headwind, so it was as good as a personal best, really. I've got to be pleased with that."

Just six months past her 18th birthday, Regis is the baby of the British team here in Portugal. An AS level student of psychology, sociology and physical education at West London Academy in Northolt, Middlesex, she has made it to senior international status in sport more swiftly than her 27-year-old brother managed. Roberts (who shares the same mother but not the same father) was 24 when he won his first cap for his native Grenada. Offloaded by Chelsea as a teenager, he played for Hayes in the Isthmian League before forging a goalscoring reputation with Bristol Rovers and then West Bromwich Albion.

Regis, in fact, has joined the international sporting ranks quicker than her Uncle Cyrille and her cousin John, too. Cyrille Regis, another Hayes and West Brom old boy, won five caps for England. John Regis, a right-wing trialist with Newcastle United in Kevin Keegan's playing days on Tyneside, won his first senior Great Britain vest as a sprinter at 19 and went on to break the British 200m record, which he still holds today.

Like big John, young Yasmine also showed talent at another sport. She played county rugby as a flanker before channelling her speed and power towards the triple jump runway. A bronze medallist in the Commonwealth Youth Championships last year, she has already improved her personal best from 12.49m to 12.86m this summer and is threatening to eclipse the British junior record of 13.05m, held by Michelle Griffith, a fellow member of Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow Athletic Club.

Regis has an expert coach in Dave Johnson, the AAA triple jump champion of 1972 and 1977 and a Commonwealth Games finalist in the event in 1978. She also has a guiding light now in Ashia Hansen, the reigning Commonwealth and European triple jump champion. Hansen, still on the recovery path after dislocating her left kneecap in the European Cup a year ago, gave the teenager advice inbetween rounds from pit-side yesterday, in her capacity as the non-competing captain of the British women's team.

"I've heard a lot about Yasmine, but this is the first time I've seen Yasmine compete," Hansen said. "She's been jumping well lately and she's obviously got a lot of talent." Indeed she has. As an 18-year-old, Regis has triple-jumped 12.86m. Hansen's best jump at the same age was 10.84m.

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