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Multi-talented Ogbeta confident of leaping to new triple jump heights

Naomi Ogbeta claimed her sixth British title in Glasgow in February, with a jump of 13.83m © Reuters

Comedian, broadcaster, politics student – Naomi Ogbeta is used to balancing a busy schedule but now she’s narrowing her focus, the triple jumper is ready to soar to new heights in athletics.

Ogbeta burst on to the international athletics scene two years ago, reaching the 2018 European Championship final amidst a variety of commitments away from the track.

The Trafford AC youngster sparked a frenzy by successfully combining her rising prominence in the sporting world with a politics and quantitative methods degree at the University of Manchester, while also launching herself into the worlds of comedy and media.

Indeed, immediately after landing in the UK following her exploits in Berlin, Ogbeta – whose brother Nathanael is an emerging footballing talent at Manchester City – travelled straight up to Edinburgh to perform at the Fringe Festival.

Now, two years on and having collected the sixth British title of her short career at February’s Indoor Championships in Glasgow, the 21-year-old is firmly focused on leaping to new targets in a sporting context.

Having missed out on a spot at last year’s World Championships in Doha, Ogbeta admits 2019 provided plenty of challenges as she struggled to juggle each element of her hectic lifestyle, but she has emerged stronger and is hopeful of further international acclaim.

“I’m so much more confident in myself this year,” she said. “Whether that’s because I’m not at uni anymore, I’m not sure, but I definitely feel that a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

“The last semester of university was very hard. I think it’s one of the toughest mental challenges I’ve had to deal with and I found it very difficult trying to balance everything.

“I had to try and find time to fit in uni work just wherever I could – once I was sat on a high jump bed trying to finish an assignment. I feel a lot better now it’s over with and I can pursue other things.

“Since graduating I’ve started working part-time for a charity called Football Beyond Borders, where we help disadvantaged school kids across the north-west by combining work in the classroom with some time out on the pitch.

“Going in and seeing the kids’ growth week on week has been really inspiring for me and I love being able to go and share my success with them.

“It’s a great charity, but the work also fits in really well with my schedule and it’s helped me feel a lot better about everything I’m doing in my life.”

While somewhat following in her brother’s footsteps by venturing into the footballing landscape, Ogbeta’s absence from Doha presented an opportunity to build on her media experience.

The youngster was part of the BBC’s television coverage of the Worlds, having previously appeared on the network to discuss politics.

And while she insists her priority is on the athletes’ side of the lens going forward, Ogbeta still has ideas up her sleeve of how she might continue to engage with her strong online following in the near future.

She said: “I couldn’t believe it when I was asked to work with the BBC in Doha – that was an amazing experience and I learnt a lot from being able to watch the triple jump from a different angle.

“A lot of people have been asking me what media projects I’m going to be doing next, but honestly I’m just focused on my athletics now. Going there and not competing was very motivating.

“It made me want it even more! I jumped well in Glasgow and I’m really happy with how my year has gone so far.

“I’ve already made a European final so now it’s a case of going one further than that and qualifying for other major competitions like the Olympics and the Worlds.

“The comedy might return though! It took a bit of a backseat towards the end of uni and I haven’t done a lot of it recently but it’s something I love doing, and I think I’m pretty good at it.

“It’s still in the early stages but I’ve got a plan to start an improv podcast. I’m going to start it on my own and then we’ll see what happens with it, so it’s exciting times ahead!”