Derek Drouin looks ready to thrive in Olympic high jump: Bailey
World-champion pedigree gives Canadian a big advantage
This is the second in a series of four articles from Donovan Bailey, looking ahead to various Diamond League meets and the Olympics.
Derek Drouin is in a good spot.
Like Canadian pole vaulter Shawn Barber, Derek is a world champion and one of the athletes Canadian fans have high expectations for at the Rio Olympics in August.
No matter how the Olympic pressure is perceived outside of his inner circle, there is no better situation to be in as an athlete.
I can relate. After winning the 100-metre world title in 1995, my confidence was high as the 1996 Atlanta Olympics approached. I embraced the high expectations placed on my shoulders. The pressure was easy to deal with, not harder.
What should I be afraid of?
Being world champion going into an Olympic year gives you such a great advantage. For me, it absolutely helped my confidence, knowing the guys that you are competing against are the ones you've beaten before. It's always a confidence builder when one, you're beating your competitors and two, you know that you're capable of beating your competitors.
It's the same with Derek.
Take his fifth-place finish at the recent Diamond League Doha event. Some may view it as a disappointment. I look at is as a positive. He cleared a season-best height of 2.29 metres, a good sign by any measure. And now is the time to work out your techniques, to get the kinks out. The results will come.
The biggest thing for Derek is to be in a place that is comfortable and where he can train. People don't understand that athletes need to dial it back right now, to take things very slowly, you cannot be laser focus every day for 100 days.
I know it's a cliché, but the one-race-at-a-time philosophy is very important. Derek's mental health has to be there. I know his support system is there.
Derek is a champion. All he has to do is the things that made him world champion last year. The old saying "if it's not broke, don't fix it," is definitely fitting for a competitor like Derek. Plus, he's also a bronze medallist from the London Olympics.
High jump is essentially a speed, power and explosive event, so he's definitely not going to get out and overextend himself. What he needs to do is ensure that he gets into a fantastic rhythm in order to have proper run-ups, which will allow him to get over the bar smoothly. It sounds simple, but it's not.
There's no panic if the results aren't there right away. It's great for Derek because he'll have plenty of time before he needs to peak in Rio. So again, when he gets into a proper rhythm everything else will fall into place.
I am certain Derek will take this season one competition one at a time — he's a professional and knows the significance of the Olympics so there's no need to over think. I am confident he will be ready and be just fine.
Donovan Bailey is a two-time Olympic gold medallist and once held the world record for the 100 at 9.84 seconds.