Our talented Eyefulite and Account Director, Jack Phipps, is busy pole vaulting to new heights when he isn’t dealing with presentations. Recently, I was able to sit down with him to find out more about what he does and how he manages to fit it all in. Jack was all too happy to chat with me about all things athletics related. Check out our interview below:
Above: Jack competing in his most recent competition; Le Perche Elite Tour, Rouen, France.
Row: Jack, for people who don’t know, tell us what exactly pole vaulting is?
Jack: I think a lot of people mistake pole vault for the high jump or people have told me, “You’re the one who throws javelin”, but pole vault is the one that, in simple terms, uses a long pole to jump over a bar that’s up in the air. So, it’s like an assisted version of high jump.
Row: How did you get into pole vault? Did you start at quite a young age, or did you start a different sport and then try that out?
Jack: It is quite an obscure sport to get into. Luckily for me, my dad did decathlons, so that has 10 events in it and one of those is pole vault. And when I was a child, that was the only one I ever remember watching him do, so I always just thought I wanted to try that. I also did athletics at a young age, but just all the standard stuff, running around a track, long jump etc.
Row: And when you say you got into it as a child, are we talking secondary school age, or really young?
Jack: I must have been about 12 or 13 when I first started doing athletics at a club, and then I got a bit bored of running around a track several times a week, so I started doing pole vault. It seemed like a bit of an extreme sport. My first competition I was 13 and then I properly started training when I was 16.
Above: Jack competing at the European Club Championships in 2019, Castellon, Spain.
Row: Now you are competing at a high standard, how do you balance training, competitions and working with us at Eyeful?
Jack: I’m really fortunate with the support from both my athletics coaching team, and the setup at Loughborough, but also the team at Eyeful. I don’t separate it as work and athletics, it’s just my lifestyle, and the two work really well together. I’m very lucky to have access to a full time British Athletics funded coach, so we do a couple of early morning sessions a week. He can also come out to competitions with me which really helps; he’s been to France with me last week. But the main thing that makes me balance it is that I thoroughly enjoy it and it doesn’t seem like a chore at all.
Row: Wow that sounds very busy… you mentioned earlier that you started competitions at about 13, and you’ve obviously done quite a few big competitions since then. What’s your biggest one? Or have you got any big ones coming up?
Jack: I went to Loughborough University before I started my actual career path. My first international was the Youth Olympics, and that was the year before The London 2012 Olympics, so they used that as a bit of a test event. Very similar multi-sport competition with all sports, thousands of people staying in an Olympic Village, and that really made me feel “Wow, okay. This is pretty cool”. That was my first time travelling abroad with the British team. I am now in a position to be able to travel most weekends throughout the summer to some fantastic places to compete. Even coming back to this weekend, I’ve been in France for three days at Le Perche Elite Tour, where you have the likes of Renaud Lavillenie, who’s the world record holder.
Row: Is your goal just to keep doing international competitions, and keep going abroad or are you working towards something specific?
Jack: Coming up next, we’ve got the British Championships that are in Glasgow, I achieved the silver medal last year at the senior championships, which was great. So, I’ll hopefully go there and defend that position, or try and do a little better. But my main goal, which I think is very achievable, is the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. I compete for a Birmingham based club that are putting a lot of support into the Commonwealth Games. So, I think that would be my next aim.
Above: Jack secured a silver medal at the SPAR British Athletics Indoor Championships in 2019.
Row: You’ve said that you love competing and you’ve always loved doing it. Is there a favourite thing you like? A ‘best bit’ about competing?
Jack: I’m so competitive, so winning is the best bit…but also just training and committing to something and then seeing the rewards from my progression is really nice. Being able to still work full-time and hopefully to continue building a professional career and as well as continuing to improve in athletics is something that I may have doubted when I first started working some years back now. I think that’s been absolutely brilliant, but also the people and the places I get to go is incredible.
That’s all from Jack and his pole-vaulting success for now but we’d like to wish him good luck for the upcoming SPAR British Athletics Indoor Championships this weekend.