Nicola McDermott jumps into the record books – and onto the plane to Tokyo 2020

Nicola McDermott celebrates clearing 2.00m
Nicola McDermott celebrates clearing 2.00m. Credit: Athletics Australia

Nicola McDermott achieved something no Australian woman had ever achieved at the Australian Athletics National Championships. She became the first woman in Australia, Oceania and Asia-Pacific to clear 2.00m in the high jump.

McDermott was crowned National Champion. She had already qualified for the Olympics. When she spoke to The Inner Sanctum, it was still a fresh achievement.

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“It hasn’t come to pass, just how big this is,” she explained.

“This has been my dream for over 16 years. To be training for it, and to have done it in an Olympic year, with my family and friends, today [the announcement of her spot on the Olympic team], is a dream.”

McDermott is only still entering her prime and sees this as the next step in what is already a storied career, constantly raising the bar for herself and what she can achieve.

“I’m only 24 now, I’ve been jumping for a while, but I know I’ve got more longevity in me, and I’m just starting to really enjoy it,” she said.

Last year, McDermott made the decision to compete in Europe, despite the pandemic.

“I went, and I got stuck over there. I jumped 1.98m, which was a personal best, and it was really big,” she explained.

“I competed in Diamond League, and I podiumed a few times, and that was such a dream, because no Australian woman had done that before.”

That jump last year meant that McDermott approached the National Championships with a little bit less stress, as she had already qualified for the Olympics.

She explained that this put her in a positive space and a positive mindset for the jump.

“I could just do it my way,” she said.

“Not having to worry about qualification, and we’ve been able to have this prep [for the National Championships] at complete peace. There’s no worry about running out of time, I’m already qualified.

“It was a case of let’s just make the most of this and see how high I can go, and the result was just a testament to that.”

The last 12 months have been a challenge for McDermott, but her mindset has always been about a long term plan for success.

“I’ve made the meantime a meaningful time,” she said.

“I’m training now, and it was never meant for one Olympics. It was always meant for more and more, and there’s always more to come. I always had that two metres in mind.

“Today [at the National Championships] to do that, its not over. I want to be able to jump two metres at all events.

“I want to have today replicated and make people dream again.”

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Despite the solo nature of her sport and most other sports in the Athletics team, McDermott is excited about the team that was announced together.

“There are times when you’re by yourself, in quarantine, and training when there is no one else around,” she said.

“To have the people that have been alongside the journey, and competing, and doing similar things, for Australia, there’s lots of camaraderie, and it’s really beautiful.”

And while McDermott has set a national record, her eyes are firmly set on even higher bars at the Olympics. She’s constantly dreaming of taking her performance to the next level, and hoping to step on the podium at the end of the world’s prestigious competition.

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