Olympic qualification goal for high jumper on Monday

It would be fitting if Hamish Kerr could gain Olympic qualification in Dunedin.

The high jumper is in search of the 2.33m performance that will get him to Tokyo later in the year.

And the Yvette Williams Memorial Meeting at the Caledonian Ground on Monday night will be his first attempt at that.

It is a sort of homecoming, too.

He was born in Dunedin, although moved to Auckland when he was 2.

Now based in Canterbury, the 24-year-old has a personal best of 2.30m — a height he jumped in 2019 to tie Glenn Howard’s New Zealand record.

He also attended the 2019 world championships and while injury hampered him, he put out a respectable jump of 2.22m.

Olympic qualification is certainly not out of the question on Monday.

He likes the Caledonian Ground and is excited about the meeting.

Both of those things help.

The week before Christmas Kerr pulled out a 2.27m jump in Auckland, too — the second-best of his career.

Every extra centimetre becomes harder to gain as you get closer to your peak.

And that bar certainly looks pretty high, even to him. But it is something he has the mentality to handle.

"I think you just break it down into steps," Kerr said.

"The amount of training we do, the amount of stuff we do ... prepares us for those top heights.

"It can be quite daunting knowing it’s a height you’ve never cleared before and you’re either going to clear it or you’re not."

The only way you were going to make such a height successfully was in learning how to jump properly.

"I get quite involved in my competitions. I get quite into it.

"When I’m really in that flow stage I don’t even realise what height it is."

His move to Christchurch has helped with that, too.

After growing up in Auckland and studying in Palmerston North, Kerr moved south two years ago to link with coach Terry Lomax.

He said it had been a worthwhile shift and Lomax had

made a considerable difference to his performance.

On the side he is studying a post graduate diploma in accounting through the Open Polytechnic, as well as a working part-time at Placemakers.

But high jump is his main focus.

His world championships experience had showed him becoming part of the elite group internationally was closer than he had thought.

New Zealand would be his focus this summer, though.

As is the case with all the country’s top athletes, he is making the most of competing domestically now restricted borders have made international competition difficult.

That is making for some top competition.

He has meetings in Auckland, Whanganui and Wellington coming up, prior to the national championships in Hastings in March.

There he will look to add a sixth national title to his name.

Monday night’s high jump is scheduled for 5.30pm.


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