Page 3 Profile: Robbie Grabarz, Olympic high jumper


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The Independent Online

The latest Olympian to bag a television show?

On the contrary, high jump bronze-medallist Robbie Grabarz has suprisingly hit out at the British sportsmen and women lured by the bright lights of TV. "It's weird seeing on TV all these people you went to training camps with," he told Radio Times. "I mean, people have launched minor celebrity careers off the back of last summer; it's all very surreal, but it doesn't really bother me."

Who could he possibly mean? Heptathlete Jessica Ennis and long-jumper Greg Rutherford have both taken advantage of their fame with sponsorships, but neither has plumbed the depths of reality TV. Grabarz could be attacking the likes of Luke Campbell, the boxer currently on Dancing On Ice, or Tom Daley, who trains celebrities to dive on the much-maligned ITV show Splash! Grabarz had a stark warning for them: "You can't hide in track and field. If they want to continue with their athletics careers, they will get their comeuppance come the summer, which will either make them pull their finger out and come back in 2014, or they'll disappear."

Is this the same Robbie Grabarz who appeared on 'Superstars' at Christmas?

It is. "Superstars was the one thing I had to do, no matter what," he said. "I told my coach I was going to be away filming for the weekend and we just fitted it into my schedule. I'm glad I did it; I don't think I've laughed so much since I was at school! I'm only human, after all. I'd go mad if I didn't let myself go a bit."

Perhaps not seeing the irony, he added: "I never did high jump because I wanted to be famous." The celebrity lifestyle, he said, "seems so easy and so wonderful", but it can "distract them from their training". But as recently as November, the Enfield-born athlete was making up to two public appearances a week, eventually stopping to ensure he kept his "eyes on the target". He admitted in a previous interview: "[I've done] dinners and things like that, spending the evening with people, which is actually quite fun. Athletes' careers are short, so you take these opportunities, but you don't want to take it to the detriment of your career. At the end of the day you make more money jumping hard than you do anything else, so that's my focus."

Can he afford to miss out on TV appearances?

He receives £27,737 in lottery funding, and more still in training and health support and prize money. He recently won £25,000 for being the top high jumper in the Diamond League. But Grabarz would do well to avoid commenting too often on other athletes' hunger for fame. Following his medal win during the summer, he posted a nude photo of himself on Twitter, with only the Union Jack to cover his modesty.