Nicola McDermott Part 2 - from 1.85m to 2 meters

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Nicola McDermott spoke with Stuart Weir about her move from 1.85m to the 2-meter mark in the high jump. This is part 2 of part 3 on Nicola McDermott.

30710647_1477536962372204_7161083398792937472_o.jpgNicola McDermott, photo from Nicola McDermott

157445106_3729897490423384_9168247928314835102_n.jpgNicola McDermott, photo by Nicola McDermott

Nicola McDermott Part 2 - from 1.85 to 2 meters

How athletes progress to the next level is a subject that fascinates me. Sometimes it is linear and predictable. Other times it is surprising and exponential. A look at McDermott's progress is interesting.

2014

1.86

2015

1.88

2016

1.88

2017

1.90

2018

1.91

2019

1.96

2020

1.98

2021

2.00

In 2017 with a PR of 1.90m, she was selected for the World Championships in London but it was a disappointing first major championship as she failed to clear the first bar. Early in 2018, she had a home Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast - not just in her home country but just up the road from where she lived. The Games proved to be a major milestone in her career: "Winning a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games was a life-changing moment because I was used to going into a competition never ever being the favorite. All through my junior years, I was competing against Eleanor Patterson and I looked up to her. I was a good jumper but not a great jumper, in the eyes of many - which I can completely understand. But then when I was jumping in the Commonwealth Games, I knew that if I did a PR that day that I would be on the podium. My mindset shifted because I realized that I wasn't just in the team to make up the numbers but that I could get a medal. So when I jumped a PR in my home stadium and received a medal, I just realized that my dream of being an Olympian and being a two-meter jumper wasn't just a distant dream. It became a goal. My mindset shifted and I became hungry to experience something like that again".

Moving from 1.90m to 2m was an obvious next goal and some athletes would have trusted the process and expected improvements to come. Nicola and her coach, Mike Horsnell, had an uncomfortable conversation. They concluded that Nicola's technique which had been good enough to get her to 1.90, was not good enough to get her to 2m. She needed a radical change. They were targeting the 2020 Olympics but it was a high-risk strategy.

She explains: "I'd won the bronze medal at Commonwealths. But when I went over to Europe I knew that with my body shape I was capable of jumping very high but my technique was lacking. So I sat down with my coach and we decided that I had to change my technique, to be more power-based and speed-based. That was a hard decision to take because if it didn't work out, I would have lost two years trying out a new technique. Potentially I would miss out on the 2019 World Championship but the aim was to make sure that I was ready for 2020. We changed the way that I trained and the way I approached jumps. I was willing to put the work into it because I wanted to reach my full potential".

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