NEXT UP ON this.
When 22-year-old Brooke Stratton jumped 6.68 metres, she achieved two incredible goals: selection for the 2016 Olympics and the 2016 national long jump title. It’s been a long journey to success for the elite athlete, who got her first taste of being airborne at the Nunawading Little Athletics Centre at age five. After having to pull out of the 2014 Commonwealth Games with a back injury, Brooke bounced back to the form that put her in contention for a medal in Rio.
In the lead up to the Rio Olympics, Brooke took time out from studying a Bachelor of Health Sciences at Deakin University to focus on the games. During this time she spoke to us about her focus, rituals and motivation to be the best in her chosen event.
I try to relax and not think too much. I listen to music as well, but I would say that I am naturally pretty focused.
When I was too young to even compete. I entered the under 6s and competed in the 50 metre sprint, which is an event they put on for the kids that are still too young to race, and I won – multiple times. I kept at it and then in the under 8s I broke the record for long jump. In the following year, in under 9s, I won a gold medal at state championships and in under 10s I made my first national team and went on to win gold.
Long jump chose me. I was a speedy child and had lots of spring. You need both for long jump.
I eat a Snickers bar before I compete! I ate one before my first-ever overseas comp and went on to jump really well at that event. I kept up that tradition and I’ve kept smashing personal bests and breaking records so it seems to be working for me.
It’s very technical. I do a lot of running work and I spend a lot of time in the gym, but my training really focuses on speed and power – I don’t focus on endurance at all.
I think of my goals and what I want to achieve. I am pretty exhausted at the minute with this current phase of my training, but I tell myself, ‘I am going to Rio!’ so it gives me the motivation to just push through and get on with it.
You don’t get anywhere without putting in the hard work. You have to give it 100%. I have also learnt to step outside of my comfort zone.
Cathy Freeman. I watched her compete at the Sydney Olympics – I was in grade 1 – and she won a gold medal. I remember thinking, ‘I want to be an Olympian, too’. I also look up to Bronwyn Thompson who won gold for long jump at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
I want to give back to the sport through coaching or similar. I will probably study further too, but I don’t know what pathway I’ll take yet. I like knowing that I can jump straight back into study at Deakin after the Olympics if I choose to.
I love to watch TV, flip through Instagram and just chill out on the couch.
Follow your dreams, that’s what I did. I had no idea I would make it to this level and look at me now. Hard work, commitment, focus. It’s all paid off.
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