Consistency has been the key for London 2017 world championships debutant Kurtis Marschall (SA), with the 20-year-old now confident he can call himself a 5.70m jumper after soaring over the height so regularly in 2017.
Marschall, who debuted in the senior green and gold team at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games last year has had a successful 2017 international season, competing aboard regularly for the first time in his young career.
“I thought jumping 5.70m last year to make the Olympic team was an absolute fluke, but since then I’ve been able to do it early in the year in Adelaide, again in Cairns, then Lucerne and Monaco. I’m stringing them together,” Marschall said.
“It’s something I’m pumped about. When I sat down with Craig Hilliard (the Athletics Australia Head Coach) to chat about my season, he spoke about how it is crucial to be an athlete that consistently hits the high heights, week in and week out. He said that was so much better than having a fluke personal best and I’ve been working to make that happen since.
The 2016 World U20 Championships silver medallist has taken big steps forward in the past two years, and recently set his personal best at his IAAF Diamond League debut in Lausanne in July.
“I’m coming into London with a 5.73m PB and if I can do that it will put me in the mix for a final. I’m confident because I’ve jumped that high heaps of times now and if it I make it to the last round I can just put it all on the track and see what happens.”
Marschall though is humble, hesitant to compare himself to the likes of great Australian pole vaulter Steve Hooker without first delivering the base required to be one of the best vaulters in the world.
“Steve was the best vaulter to ever live in Australia, but I probably don’t compare myself to him. He wasn’t an early bloomer like me, he took up the vault a little bit later and progressed a little bit later,” Marschall said.
“I’d love to achieve something that ever resembled what Steve accomplished. He was the Olympic champion, he won the Commonwealth Games, the world champs, the world indoors. It’s insane to think about it really and I don’t think you could be any happier than if you had a career like that.
“I’ve been looking at what Paul Burgess did in his career, too. He had every national junior record when I started and I was so proud to equal his under 18 record and then better his under 20 mark. He went on to be a six-metre jumper, like Steve did. If I can do that, then amazing.”
Marschall’s preparations for London 2017 have been commendable, with fourth and sixth place respectively at the Lausanne (SUI) and Monaco (MON) instalments of the IAAF Diamond League.
“Monaco was a surreal experience. It was a real confidence boost knowing that I wasn’t just a guy filling the field, not just a participant. I came 6th there, after a good result in Lausanne, too, and have taken a few scalps along the way over athletes that are well respected. It’s been some of the best experiences I’ve ever had.”
In the women’s event, 23-year-old Liz Parnov (WA) is returning to Team Australia for the first time since the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (SCO) in 2014.
She boasts a new personal best after soaring 4.51m in Perth (WA) in March, and most recently jumped 4.41m at the KBC Nacht in Heusden (BEL) last month.
In the men’s long jump, Fabrice Lapierre (NSW) and Henry Frayne (Qld) will take to the runway.
Lapierre is looking to return to the world championships podium after winning silver at Beijing 2015 with a leap of 8.24m (w: +0.7), while Frayne’s resume includes a podium finish from the IAAF World Indoor Championships and a season best of 8.21m, his qualifying mark for the IAAF World Championships.
Australian record holder, Brooke Stratton (Vic), starts in the women’s long jump after returning from injury to leap 6.79m (w: -0.6) at the IAAF Diamond League in London (GBR) last month. The Rio Olympic finalist will be joined by Team Australia debutant Naa Anang (Qld), the World University Games bronze medallist from 2015.