Commonwealth Games: Reigning pole vault champion Kurtis Marschall ready to exorcise mental demons
Pole vaulter Kurtis Marschall is favouring a bend but do not break approach to conquering his mental demons as he prepares to defend his Commonwealth Games gold medal.
The WAIS scholarship holder is hoping to join Steve Hooker, Alana Boyd and Trevor Bickle as the only Australians to retain their Commonwealth pole vault titles after he was selected in Australia’s squad for the Birmingham Games.
The world number 13 reached the final at the Tokyo Olympics last year, but finished in last place after recording a “no-heighter”, failing to clear the bar on any of his first three attempts.
Having declared another Commonwealth Games gold his ultimate priority for the year, Marschall said he was using his Olympic nightmare to motivate him this season.
“It definitely fuels the fire in my belly to try and capitalise on what I have the potential to do and I feel like going into this season, I’ve got a lot to gain and not much to lose,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to going over there, just giving it my all and laying it all out there on the track, no excuses.”
The reigning national champion said while he knew the same stresses he battled at the Olympics may rear their head again in Birmingham, he was better equipped to handle them.
“I think a few things let me down in Tokyo in terms of my mental confidence, focus and communication strategies with my coach to try and battle through the nerves,” he said.
“It’s not about eliminating the nerves or anything like that this time around. I think the mental demons are going to come up, but it’s all about honing in, being more present, working on the things I can control, trying to execute the cues that I’ve been working on and trying not to focus too much on what everyone else is doing.”
In the wake of the Olympics, Marschall headed to Europe to get his mojo back and blew out the cobwebs with some promising results, which he followed up with a strong start to 2022.
The 25-year-old said he was full of confidence as he started to build towards the World Athletics Championships and the Commonwealth Games and he welcomed the pressure which came with being the defending Commonwealth champion, especially the prospect of locking horns with Great Britain star Harry Coppell.
“Having a crowd there cheering you on, giving you that extra little bit of adrenaline when you’re about to try and clear the third attempt in front of everyone is just going to be that extra little cherry on the top,” he said.
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