JOEL CLARKE-KHAN: "THE NEXT 18 MONTHS ARE VERY MUCH CAREER-DEFINING"

Joel Clarke-Khan was crowned British high jump champion back in September – but says the next 18 months will make or break his career. The Worcester-based talent leapt over the bar at 2.18m in Manchester to return to competitive action in style, having endured a turbulent few years after rupturing his patella tendon. The Commonwealth Games in 2022 are looming but Joel, also a model, says not being selected for Birmingham may see him hang up his spikes.
08 January, 2021

Joel Clarke-Khan was crowned British high jump champion back in September – but says the next 18 months will make or break his career.

The Worcester-based talent leapt over the bar at 2.18m in Manchester to return to competitive action in style, having endured a turbulent few years after rupturing his patella tendon in 2018.

The Commonwealth Games in 2022 are looming but Joel, also a model, says not being selected for Birmingham may lead to him hanging up his spikes.

“It’s easy for athletes to keep saying they’re trying to make it and then realise they haven’t achieved anything and their life has passed by,” said Joel, 21, who is financially supported by Entain and SportsAid through the Pitching In initiative.

“But for me, if I’m not selected for the Commonwealth Games, then it may be time to pursue a different career. The next 18 months are very much career-defining and if I don’t move forward now then I’ll probably look for another road to go down.

“But I’m giving it my all and really put my heart and soul into this, because I’ve been given the opportunity to achieve something and I’m not going to let that go to waste.”

The Midlands talent is grounded but determined to reach the summit, with a pivotal 2021 looming including the defence of his British crown, the British Indoor Championships and the Olympic Games.

Booking a seat on the plane to Tokyo remains a long shot – but Joel reckons a run of form between now and the summer could haul himself into contention. 

“If I’m being realistic it’s not on the agenda, but we don’t know what’s going to happen,” added Joel, who is following in the footsteps of fellow athletes Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah and Dina Asher-Smith in receiving SportsAid support.

“I could jump higher than expected and I’m not going to close it off - I’m going to work my hardest and put my all into it, so I could see some promising results.”

Entain announced a three-year partnership with SportsAid in 2019 to help talented young athletes, just like Joel, realise their potential and pursue their sporting ambitions.

The investment provides funding for training, travel and equipment, and allows athletes to access mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition, media and sports psychology.

“I was in such a good mental state [in Manchester] because I was so relaxed because everything went smoothly financially,” said Joel. “If I didn’t have SportsAid funding I’d worry about how I’m going to fund my pre-competition massage, travel, hotel, eating, and literally everything.

“I could have turned up with a stressed mind, but having SportsAid to help with opportunities was a blessing and really puts me in a better place.

“Coming back from a quiet year [due to injury], I wasn’t sure if SportsAid were going to be in contact,” added Joel. “It’s nice to know they believe in me, and I was able to prove to them that I’m worth believing in.”

Entain is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. Please visit https://entaingroup.com/entain-foundation/sportsaid-partnership/ to find out more.