The Olympic bronze and world indoor silver high jump medallist feels he has earned his place back among GB’s elite athletes
Robbie Grabarz’s approach to the 2016 Olympics in Rio has been long and agonising but, ultimately, more rewarding than four years ago.
The 28-year-old won bronze in the high jump back in London but, until now, had barely experienced a pain-free moment since as he battled a long-term knee injury which nearly left him packing in the sport altogether.
Left with his confidence at an all-time low, unable to clear a 1.80m bar on his return from an operation two years ago – a height he routinely cleared at 15 years old – the Newham & Essex athlete’s return to the top has been emphatic and his world indoor silver medal from Portland in March is testament to Grabarz’s reserves of talent and dedication.
“In 2012 I didn’t really appreciate it all but this time I feel I’ve really earned to be back in shape, on form and achieving certain things rather than taking them for granted,” Grabarz said.
“You respect that those achievements aren’t small things, like making the [Olympic] team when two years ago it seemed like it would never happen.
“They’re quite exciting things which came quite quickly with the progression I made through the indoor season. It does make it really exciting and you feel like you earned and deserved it.”
Grabarz competed in Rome last Thursday when he cleared 2.30m to finish second and then placed fourth after clearing 2.29m at the Birmingham Diamond League on Sunday. He continues to throw himself head-first into competitions against the world’s best, with his total of Diamond League appearances in 2016 now at four after Doha and Rabat.
“It was always the plan, especially after Portland, to get out there and compete regularly with the best jumpers in the world,” he said.
“We learn a lot from these experiences early in the season, like things that break under pressure or things that are really strong under pressure.
“These competitions have been good. It’s been great to go out and jump against the best guys in the world and learn a few technical things we can take into training.”
Speaking after the Birmingham meeting, he added: “It’s so much fun. I’m really enjoying my high jump at the moment.
“Just being part of things again is really good.”
» Grabarz joined the likes of Mo Farah, Dina Asher-Smith, Gianmarco Tamberi, Dafne Schippers and Adam Gemili in a star-studded field at the Birmingham Diamond League. For more on British Athletics events see britishathletics.org.uk