Those three digits might not sound like anything special to you. One short of a PIN number. Seven shy of a mobile phone number.
To this little jumper, they were the most beautiful sequence of numbers I’ve ever heard and the likely realisation of a dream I’ve nurtured for as long as I remember. That 6.70m jump in Canberra a couple of weeks ago met the qualifying standard for Australian team selection to compete at the Olympics in Rio.
Exhilaration barely covers how I felt.
But if you watch YouTube vision of me climbing out of the pit immediately afterwards, you probably wouldn’t know it. My first reaction tells you a little about the life of a jumper, or any field athlete I guess.
It had been a frustrating series of leaps before that qualifier. I had big expectations at that meet. My earlier attempts were rubbish – three disjointed run-ups, a near face plant and a foul – and I’d seemed to have forgotten how to run fast down the runway. My second-last jump was only a slight improvement. Field events are so technical and I felt at that most important moment my technique had deserted me.
So for my last jump I adopted a different thought process. We were the only event happening at the time so there was a bit of atmosphere around the stadium and everyone was expecting something. I thought, today’s not my day so I’ve nothing to lose and should just go for it. I spun my little legs as fast as they could go and launched myself into the air. It felt pretty ordinary and uncontrolled – maybe 6.50m – so I trudged over to my coach Gary Bourne for a de-brief. He’s a pretty blunt man and told me to stop and wait for the result.
“Holy moly,” I thought when I heard the result. I was flabbergasted a jump that felt so horrible could take me to Rio. I was hopping like a bunny in excitement until I realised I should check the wind reading. All clear, the official said. I didn’t get his name but couldn’t help giving him a thank you kiss on the top of his hat.
There’s still a long way to go before that team is read out. But the elation of finally hitting that mark still gives me goosebumps. There’s two more meets – Perth on March 12 and Sydney a week later – to tune up for the national championships and Olympic selection trials at the end of the month. With a bit more hard work and attention to detail let’s hope I can jump even further.