Our Olympians: High jumper raising the bar

Nanoose Bay high jumper Mike Mason at peak performance heading into 2012 London Olympics.

Mike Mason clears the bar at a meet in Abbotsford two seasons ago. The Olympic high jumper set a personal best this season of two metres

Mike Mason clears the bar at a meet in Abbotsford two seasons ago. The Olympic high jumper set a personal best this season of two metres

Mike Mason’s final jump of last season was 2.05 metres, or about six feet, seven inches. It sounds like a lot, but for an Olympic veteran high jumper, it wasn’t good enough.

Injured and frustrated, he shut down his season.

“I wasn’t expecting to have a chance to qualify for London after last year, being injured and having a pretty poor season,” he said.

He was down, but not out. And having jumped before with the world watching, in Beijing in 2008, he had to keep striving for the Olympics.

“For myself, and I’m sure most athletes will say, it really is huge,” Mason said. “It’s the biggest event that you can prepare for and it’s four years in between so you’ve really got to plan well and make it count.”

So he recovered, and refreshed his career by going back to train with his original coach from his high school days.

“It’s just a lot of training, a lot of repetition, doing the same kind of stuff in practice so it’s second nature for your body,” Mason said. “I’ve been consistently improving in practice for several months.”

The 25-year-old from Nanoose Bay has all his height back, and more. First he jumped two metres, 28 centimetres. Then 2.28m again. Then at a meet in Guadeloupe he leaped 2.31m, a personal best. That’s the jump that basically lifted him to London, though he secured his spot with a second-place finish at nationals in Calgary last month.

For Mason, these are new heights in a sport where centimetres matter. In Beijing he got hurt and his 2.25m didn’t get him out of the qualifying round. At those Games, it took 2.34m to medal.

Maybe in London, he can raise the bar, like he’s been doing all season.

“Sometimes you’re just on a little bit more than other days, and [2.31m] actually felt pretty easy, which is, I think, the way it’s supposed to feel when things are going right,” he said.

GAMES ON … Mason has his qualifying jumps on Aug. 5 at 11:05 a.m. If he reaches the final, it will be Aug. 7 at 11 a.m. … Tommy Gossland, a swimmer from Nanaimo, races the 4x100m freestyle relay heats Sunday (July 29) at 3:53 a.m. PST. If Canada reaches the final, that race will be Sunday at 12:54 p.m. … Mike Leigh, a sailor born in Nanaimo but sailing out of Vancouver, races in the 470 event starting Aug. 2 at 4 a.m.


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