Thirteen years have now elapsed since Kelly Proper broke the national senior Long Jump record. The Ferrybank athlete jumped 6.62m at a meet in Vienna and went onto represent Ireland at the World Indoors and European Championships later that year.
Now over a decade on Proper’s record looks under serious threat for the first time. Leading the charge to knock her off her perch is St. Abban’s athlete Ruby Millet.
The 21-year-old from Massford, Co. Kilkenny, a stone’s throw from both Carlow and Laois borders feels the record is within touching distance.
“I want to get that national record this year,” she tells Irish Runner.
“I’d those two wind-assisted jumps last year that would have been equal to or better than the national record.
“If I can get consistently jumping 6.60m, I can jump 6.80m once off.
“It’s just about getting consistent at doing the big jumps.”
Millet is full of praise for Proper who she looked up to in her formative days in the sport.
“I don't think I ever met her, but I met her coach Brid (Golden) a few times,” she says.
“I still remember when I broke the national U20 record, and I was on the way home in the car emailing Brid and being like 'tell Kelly I love her’ and that ‘she's so great' and everything.
“She was absolutely amazing, a beast.
“I’d love to bring those records on a bit more for the next person coming forward and I’m sure she’d love to see that as well, they (records) are there to be broken.”
Ruby Millet sees improvements ahead of 2023 season
The final year Mathematical Science and Physics student in UCC has worked hard over the winter with coaches Michael and Eoin Kelly and feels she has made improvements heading into another year.
Millet opened her season last weekend at the 123.ie National Indoor League and will compete again at the National Junior and U23 Championships at the Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena in Abbotstown this weekend.
“Last year say I started my season and I jumped 6.04m.
“This year I jumped 6.16m and that was from the back of the board, I didn't even get on the board last weekend so hopefully I'll have a big jump this weekend,” she adds.
“I’ve taken the weaknesses from last year and focused on making sure they’re not weaknesses now.”
2023 will be a big year for Millet as she finishes her degree and starts the next chapter of her life. She remains undecided as to where she will go next.
“I’m looking at a part-time masters or going into the athlete friendly employment network.
“There’s a few masters in UL - artificial intelligence or software engineering, or else going to a tech company.
“I know whatever it is, it’ll be part time anyway to enable me to give athletics everything.
“It’s almost like as you get comfortable (in life) you get booted out again to a change.”
Describing athletics as her “first love” Millet began using the local track at the age of four watching her older sister and multiple time national 400m hurdles champion Nessa train.
Over the years she has frequented the renowned St. Abban’s club, which has a glittering history of success. Millet is clearly proud of her club’s tradition.
“It’s small but there’s a great community in it.
“There’s about a five metre hall in the clubhouse and when I went up for training yesterday I’d say it took me about ten minutes to get through it, everyone was like ‘well done, that’s great’ and everything.
“They’re all so nice, everyone knows what you’ve done, and they know what you’re doing.
“It’s a real nurturing environment, everyone works really hard and there’s never a day I don’t look forward to going to training and seeing the lads.”
It promises to be a busy few weeks for Millet who is in with a chance of making the European Championships in Istanbul in early March. She also has ambitious goals for the summer ahead.
“The European indoor standard for Athletics Ireland is 6.50m, and you’ve to be in the top eighteen.
“That depends on ranking points but I’ll go hell for leather for it now anyway,” she admits.
“I also want to qualify and hopefully get into the final of the European U23s this year in Finland in the middle of July.”
With Millet hoping for a breakthrough year and Reece Ademola hoping to continue on an upward trajectory, the future of Irish long jumping looks extremely bright.
Long jumper Ruby Millet of St Abbans AC, Laois, was speaking at the 123.ie National Junior and U23 Indoor Championships media day at the National Indoor Arena in Dublin. The championships take place this Saturday, January 14th.