Taking a big leap forward

3 weeks ago
Frustrated by the lack of attention his event was receiving, Danish long jumper Andreas Trajkovski took matters into his own hands online – with startling results

Andreas Trajkovski couldn’t find what he was looking for. Sitting in his college dorm room, the world junior silver medal-winning long jumper had gone online to search out the latest news concerning his favourite athletic discipline – and drew a blank.

“I was looking in the news for track and field and people jumping,” he says. “I love long jump and the jump events and that’s when I started to ask ‘where can I find the news about this and are there any highlights?’.

“There was nothing really that highlighted high jump, pole vault, long jump so I thought ‘why shouldn’t I just start my own thing?’.” So he did.

It was around six years ago that Trajkovski, now 27, took his first steps on what has become an impressive journey with the creation of Jumpers World.

“I just started posting videos,” he recalls of the Instagram account which has a focus on jumping but also includes all track and field disciplines. “The first video was of [world and Olympic champion] Christian Taylor from [the world championships in] Daegu 2011. He liked and posted a comment on the video and things started to grow from there.

“It was crazy because in one year I managed to get 50,000 followers.”

It wasn’t all smooth sailing, however. 

“I didn’t know anything about copyright infringement or the rules around sharing content from different sources,” adds Trajkovski. “They locked down my account.”

“There was nothing really that highlighted high jump, pole vault, long jump so I thought ‘why shouldn’t I just start my own thing?”

There were two ways to go from there. Either stop completely or start again. Trajkovski chose the latter and it has proved to be one of the best decisions the Dane has ever made.

“I worked hard, sourcing private videos and not ones from big sources and big channels and it [the venture] started to get up there. The athletes started sharing and helping me get it back up and we’re here now, so it’s amazing.”

“Here” means 306,000 Instagram followers – a number of whom complete a who’s who of international jumps athletes – as well as an impressive website and two other related business ventures getting off the ground.

WHOSONDECK is the new clothing brand which will also be supplying training and competition gear to athletes, while Trajkovski is collaborating with former Olympic long jump champion Brittney Reese and reigning world indoor triple jump champion Will Claye in a company called Recruiter’s Eye which helps to recruit young athletes for college places in the USA.

Jumpers World takes up much of his time, however, and he insists its success can be attributed in part to field events being largely overshadowed by those on the track. 

As British pole vault champion Holly Bradshaw has pointed out to AW, there is a clear disparity when it comes to the amount of  TV exposure dedicated to those who jump or throw. 

Trajkovski insists the popularity of Jumpers World highlights that there is still an audience out there – it’s just that the way of reaching them is changing.

“It’s sad we don’t get as much attention as the sprint events do, even though the athletes are putting in so much hard work,” he says. “Over the years I’ve been building big relationships with the likes of Christian Taylor, Will Claye, Greg Rutherford – all these big athletes who have this connection because they respect Jumpers World and what we do.

“We like to showcase all the biggest jumpers in the world but we also want to hopefully help bring back attention to the sport.”

Doing so means a fresh approach. Streaming has become an increasingly significant option for those events which don’t attract the interest of the bigger broadcasters but Trajkovski feels there are other strong online forces at play when it comes to athletics moving forward.

“I think the future for branding the sport is on social media. I believe with a lot of good work and collaborations we could make athletics one of the top sports to watch”

“I think the future for branding the sport is on social media,” he says. “I believe with a lot of good work and collaborations we could make athletics one of the top sports to watch. I don’t believe it’s boring and there can be a great hype around the events but, with Usain Bolt now gone, what can we do to being attention back to the sport? 

“That’s something me and my team have been trying to work on and see who we can collaborate with. Who can we partner up with? How can we stage our own competition one day?

“Our vision is to one day have our own competition circuit where have a focus on the jumps events but also bring in other events, too.”

He adds: “I was working with Teddy Tamgho on staging our own jumping competition in France last year featuring the long jump and triple jump and bringing in Christian Taylor and the top three from the world championships in Doha.

“We had to cancel because of COVID but we have the opportunities and the athletes are supportive of our projects and vision.

“World Athletics do a great job but I just feel we could do it bigger and perhaps support each other.”

One of Trajkovski’s dreams is to get the top triple jumpers battling it out at a one-off competition at the Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg, the scene of Jonathan Edwards’ world record-breaking leap of 18.29m in 1995 – a mark which still stands today. 

Drawing on the sport’s rich history and great feats of the past is nothing new for a man who grew up in a sporting family, however. His father and coach Christian is a former Danish 100m champion who still competes on the masters circuit while his mother was a highly talented junior sprinter who is now a physiotherapist. 

“I grew up on the track and I’m a track and field nerd,” admits the man who also runs the opening leg in the Danish 4x100m relay team. “My dad always recorded the world championships from the past and when I would come home from school I’d put on the footage and I watched Carl Lewis and Mike Powell from the 1991 World Championships over and over and over again.

“That made me think ‘let me try the long jump’ and since then I’ve loved jumping and flying and everything like that.”

His business interests might be keeping him busy but Trajkovski still hasn’t given up on his sporting aspirations, either. A serious injury not long after his world junior silver in 2012 halted his progression but he has not given up on making his first Olympics.

“I’m a dreamer, though I work hard as well,” he says. “The Olympics has always been on my mind. The qualification is hard but if you go for the points system then right now you have to jump 7.90m three or four times so I don’t think it’s impossible for me to make the Olympic team.

“It’s harder to make the team than it is to make the final.”

When it comes to competition in 2021, it’s perhaps no surprise to find Trajkovski also has one eye on business – primarily in trying to support top-class athletes who have not yet been able to secure backing. 

“We’re going to sponsor a lot of athletes, including British athletes, who haven’t got a sponsor,” he says. “They might have the potential to attract a sponsor but in athletics over the past year you had to be top three or top five in the world [to get a deal]. My vision is ‘why not help these athletes to get there?’

“We’re going to put packages of training gear together and send them out to athletes around the world.”

And so the reach of Jumpers World will continue to grow. 

Visit: jumpersworld.com

Follow Jumpers World on Instagram @jumpers.world

» This interview appears in the February issue of AW which is available by clicking here

» For more on the latest athletics news, athletics events coverage and athletics updates, check out the AW homepage and our social media channels on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

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