The Olympic high jump bronze medallist from London 2012 is satisfied with his progression heading into the World Indoor Championships
Robbie Grabarz’s reintroduction to the international picture last summer at the IAAF World Championships will stand him in good stead to reclaim his place among the best high jumpers in the world, the Olympic bronze medallist believes.
Grabarz is preparing to take the latest big step on a protracted road to recovery when he competes in Portland at the IAAF World Indoor Championships having undergone knee surgery in 2014.
After winning his third senior outdoor British trials in 2015, the 28-year-old was unable to progress beyond the qualifying stages in Beijing, exposing himself to major senior competition for the first time since going under the knife.
Knowing he would unlikely ascend to the heights he was achieving at his peak back in 2012 when he cleared 2.37m to go second on the UK all-time list, going through the motions of major championship preparation was all part of what’s been a formative experience for Grabarz over the past two years.
He said: “Last year I had to compete to get back to jumping in competition and jumping competitively again. You expose yourself when you’re not quite ready to compete at your highest level, and you have to take that on the chin.
“The experience gained by competing was really needed. I could take what I learned last summer, train all winter and come out this year with the aim of being ready to compete with the best in the world.”
Competing with the best in the world looks almost to be within Grabarz’s reach once more after clearing 2.33m in Slovakia at the start of February with what was his best jump since his Olympic medal-winning season four years ago.
Though it’s not just the likes of world leader Gianmarco Tamberi and reigning world indoor champion Mutaz Essa Barshim that the Brit need be wary about now as he sets his sights on wrestling for the medal spots with the big guns again.
Grabarz’s compatriot Chris Baker beat him to the British title last month just two weeks after producing a lifetime best of 2.36m – a mark which also puts him joint second with Barshim on the world list this year – and will have serious designs on topping the medal podium come Saturday.
But with a full winter under his belt and the strength back in his legs to push himself that bit harder than he has done for some time, Grabarz is confident that he’s nearly back to his old self.
“It’s been nearly two years since my surgery so it takes a long time to get back from that so it’s just really been my first full winter leading into an indoor season I’ve had since I had my surgery,” he said.
“It’s been a long road to come back to gain the confidence just to be able to compete at full speed so it just confirms that what we’ve been doing is working. I’m in a place where I’m more confident now than I have been for a couple of years.”
As for his breakthrough clearance from earlier in February, the high jumper is just pleased to feel as though he’s back on track at long last.
Grabarz said: “It was a really satisfying jump. It was my aim to jump 2.33m this indoor season to qualify for these championships so once I’d done that I did feel a sense of satisfaction that I’d achieved my goal of the indoor season.
“When that happens you can re-evaluate rather than thinking that you’ve only got three more competitions to do it now. You think you’ve got six to eight weeks to prepare for the championships now, and that’s a nice place to be.”
» Find an online preview for the IAAF World Indoor Championships here, while the March 17 edition of Athletics Weekly magazine, on sale in shops now or available digitally here, includes a preview plus global indoor rankings