Morgan Lake is the best high jumper in the UK. A former heptathlete, Morgan had an exceptional year in 2023. Stuart Weir did this interview with Morgan for RunBlogRun. We are looking forward to seeing Stuart Weir traveling again later this year! 

Morgan Lake on how a good 2023 can be a springboard into the Olympic year

2023 was an excellent year for the GB high-jumper Morgan Ake. She jumped 1.99 indoors to win in Hustopeče, Czech Republic, setting a new British Indoor record, and 1.97 at the Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku, Finland, before finishing fourth in the World Champs at Budapest with another  .97. Her assessment of the year was: “To get a British record indoors in February last year was amazing, but obviously, I did not have the best European championship in Istanbul [Seve th]. But I think I learned quite a lot from that championship, which I then took into the outdoor section.  Perhaps I went to Istanbul seeing myself as a medal contender after the 1.99, thinking because I’ve jumped it (1.99) before, I’ll just jump it ag in’. And I learned that you need to keep your head down and keep working, and nothing’s guaranteed.

Morgan Lake, photo by Getty Images for British Athletics, photo 1

“I think I had that mentality going through the su mer. Every competition was a new experience, a new opportunity, y’all.  So it’s taking each competition as its ent. I had a good Diamond League season [five top 5 finis es]. It was nice to be back on the circuit. I hadn’t really been there since  018. So it was nice to be back in those high-level competitions. Fourth in Budapest, which is always a bitter-sweet feeling, being so close to a medal, but also from the previous year of placing 7th at European Championships when I had been quite down about what happened in that 2022 season with missing the World Champs with COVID and then fourth in the Commonwealth Games and 7th in Much.  I couldn’t really catch a break. So, I felt that 2023 gave me more confidence in my jumping and that I can be there in the global age. She explained that her new mindset led to a goal that she and her coach Robbie Grabarz had set: “We didn’t say ‘We’re gonna get a meal.’ It was just ‘be in that fight for a medal’”.

Morgan Lake, photo by Getty Images for British Athletics

When she came to the Worlds in Budapest, it seemed the culmination of that good season – 1.99, the consistency in Diamond Leagues – giving her the confidence that she could be in contention for the medals: “I think Robbie’s main aim was to be in the medal fight in Budapest, and that was the kind of thing that had kept me going in the season. So I think for me in Budapest, it was third attempt 1.94 and third attempt 1.97 because going for those third attempts, I was thinking, ‘I need to stay in this competition.’ It was almost like I didn’t think about what height or attempt it was.  I just knew I had to keep trying to stay in the camp. I think that kind of broke off a little bit when I got to 1.99, I started skipping bars, and then I was thinking more about the heights, and OK, now I could actually get a medal, but I think my progression through the competition was to make sure I’ve got to that p int. I think that’s probably what kept the fire going”.

The skipping bars told you a lot about her min set. Having cleared 1.97, she had two failures at  .99. The easy option would have been to take a third and hopefully achieve a new outdoor PR. But no, she skipped 1.99 and went for 2.01 to stay in the fight for meals. Ultimately, it was unsuccessful, and she finished fourth with 1.97, having fulfilled the aim of staying in the battle for medals.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 22: Morgan Lake of Great Britain competes in the Women’s High Jump during Day Two of the Muller Anniversary Games at London Stadium on July 22, 2018 in London, Eng and. (Photo by S Bardens – British Athletics/British Athletics via Getty Images)

Given that Morgan has been British Champion eight times, it is easy to forget that she is only 26. I reminded her that I had been watching her for 10 years: “It’s weird because when I look back on my world Juniors [Under 20s], it was 10 years ago. [She won the high jump and heptath on]. And I came into the senior setup as a kid, pretty much just coming out as a senior while still in the junior ranks. I was still a junior in my first Olympics – [Rio when she made the final] – so I’ve had a lot of experience. And I think my mindset’s changed a bit. Now it’s, hey, I have been doing this for a few years. It’s the next goal, and that is getting me all. I think I’ve had the experience now. I’ve made the teams and the finals, which have all been amazing and a perfect part of my progression and experience. But I feel I’m at the next stage, which keeps it exciting. Hey, there’s a new goal now for the championships”.

Morgan Lake, photo by Getty Images for British Athletics

Paris is the target as she prepares for the 2024 outdoor season: “Obviously, the end goal is August, keeping that in our sights in training. So I’ve had a longer training bock. I’ve been training through, having had a bit of a longer winter than usual. It is a bit different to last year, where I think the aim at the indoors was to come out and jump high early and give me that confidence. Whereas this year it’s been, OK, we’re gonna consolidate what we did last year and train for a little bit longer”.

At only 26,  Paris would be a third Olympics.  She has bitter-sweet memories of Tokyo: “For me, making the final in Tokyo was such a big thing – jumping 1.95 and just feeling so comfortable ble. I almost wished the competition had just continued because I felt in such great form, and it was such a shame that I couldn’t show it in the final. [She had to withdraw with injry]. But now I’ve worked on so much since those games. So emulating what I did in the qualifying and then having a chance to do it in the final would be amazing”.   

In part 2, Morgan talks about technique, coaching, and chasing 2m

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