Nicola Olyslagers competes in world championships high jump final.
Nicola Olyslagers is hoping to soar to great heights at the Olympic Games in Paris. Image by AP PHOTO
  • athletics, track and field

‘Don’t know what my best is’: Olyslagers raises the bar

John Salvado April 15, 2024

High jump superstar Nicola Olyslagers was happy to step way outside her comfort zone at the Australian track and field championships.

With a fifth national title and guaranteed Olympic selection already safely in her keeping, the newly crowned world indoor champion could have called it a day after clearing 2.01 metres in Adelaide on Sunday.

Or she could have had a crack at what would have been a national record of 2.04m.

Instead, the 27-year-old raised the bar to 2.06m – only 3cm shy of Bulgarian Stefka Kostadinova’s world record of 2.09m which has stood unchallenged since 1987.

Olyslagers came up short this time, although her second attempt was very close.

“I was thinking, ‘How is it possible that it’s been 37 years since a woman jumped over 2.09? How long is that?’,” Olsylagers said.

“I recognised that when (Kostadinova) was jumping 2.09, someone else was jumping 2.07 right next to her.

“So if you don’t have the luxury of that you have to do big, bold things that most high jumpers don’t want to do.

“I’m just learning how to be outside my comfort zone, pushing myself to do things and not settle for less than my best.

“I don’t think I know what my best is, and that excites me.”

Olyslagers benefited from competing against her great domestic rival and 2022 world champ Eleanor Patterson on home soil for the first time in four years.

Eleanor Patterson (left) and Nicola Olyslagers.
 Eleanor Patterson (left) and Nicola Olyslagers are pushing each other to new heights. Image by Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS 

Patterson has skipped most of the domestic season and is not as advanced in her Olympic preparation as Olyslagers, although she has plenty of time to make up the ground.

The pair will be among Australia’s very best track and field medal hopes in Paris.

Patterson, 27, finished second with 1.95m in Adelaide.

“It was a step in the right direction for me, given I had a lot of misses and it wasn’t necessarily a pretty scorecard,” said Patterson, who has a personal best of 2.02m.

“I’m gaining rhythm, gaining confidence into the season and gaining momentum.

“It’s an Olympic year and I want to take it by the horns and be able to bring out my big jumps.

“It’s wonderful to compete against Nicola, who had a very pretty scorecard and is jumping phenomenally.

“But that’s the thing, you’re jumping against one of the best in the world.

“I’m not quite there right now in terms of where I want to be, but I’m building into the year.”