Diamond League: Robbie Grabarz has smile back on his face after working with psychologist Steve Peters

British high jumper in action in Doha this weekend

Robbie Grabarz has spent the last couple of months treading what has become a well-worn path in British sport; the one that leads to Steve Peters’ door. Friday night in Doha Grabarz begins his outdoor season, targeted to peak with a medal in August’s world championships, at the opening Diamond League meet and will do so with the joy back in his jump thanks to the astute assistance of Peters’ sports psychology.

Grabarz’s career, suitably enough for a high jumper, has gone through a succession of dramatic highs and lows over the last two years. The low point came in January 2012 when, stripped of his lottery funding, he entered Olympic year “skint.” He ended Olympic year as a bronze medallist and followed that by winning the $40,000 prize for the leading high jumper in the Diamond League. He was no longer skint.

That high brought expectation and a pressure that Grabarz struggled to manage. At the European indoor championships in Gothenburg earlier this year he failed to live up to his billing and came sixth. Peters, meanwhile, fresh from another Olympic triumph with British Cycling was ready to branch out (with Dave Brailsford’s backing – an acute awareness of the need to present new challenges to staff and athletes is one of Brailsford’s own notable psychological skills).  British Athletics and Liverpool were first in the queue and Grabarz – who may be followed up the path by Luis Suarez – came looking for a way to “put the smile back on his face.”

“Steve asked me: ‘Why do you do it?’ He made me confront that question,” said Grabarz. “It was a matter of relearning how to enjoy it. I explained that to Steve. Everyone expects me to come out and jump the British record every meet. It doesn’t happen. It’s accepting that I’m not perfect – no-one’s perfect.”

The notion of concentrating on yourself, what you can control and disregarding external factors, whether it be opponents, supporters or conditions, is characteristic of the approach adopted by many of Peters’ subjects, who include Victoria Pendleton and now Becky James, Britain’s latest cycling world champion. 

“I want to jump higher than anyone ever has,” said Grabarz. “That’s why I do it. But if someone else jumps higher there’s nothing I can do about it. I just want to concentrate on bringing my best to the table.”

Peters divides his time between athletics, cycling and Liverpool and Grabarz, who was pointed in Peters’ direction by Peter Eriksson, British Athletics’ new head coach, will not shy from consulting him again.

“We’ll stay in touch,” said Grabarz. “It’s nice to have that access. I like to be accountable for everything I say and do. I don’t want to say ‘Here’s my brain, I’m handing it over to you’. I want to work it out for myself but if it can be done quicker talking to someone else, why not? [Since March has] probably been the best training I’ve ever done. I’m doing it with a smile on my face again.”

Grabarz not only has the smile back he also believes he has the spring back in his step. Last month, he judged, was “probably the best training I’ve ever done.” The training he did over the winter in preparation for the indoor season was, on the other hand, “unenjoyable.” Since his failure in Gothenburg he has made technical adjustments, tweaking his run up, as he seeks to improve on last year’s two Diamond League victories, in Birmingham and Rome, as well as equalling the British record of 2.37m in August in Lausanne as he floated on his Olympic high to the end of comfortably his best season. 

It was far removed from the previous one in which he failed to qualify for the world championships and saw his central funding removed. He began last year by clearing the Olympic qualifying mark as early as January and will look for a similar encouraging start to the outdoor campaign, which includes the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games in London and the worlds as key stopping off points.

“My mind is good for competing,” said Grabarz. “Last year was loads of pressure and I did well there. I know where I’m at. At the end of the day I just do it for myself and no-one else. If I’m not going to enjoy it any more I’ll pack it in.”

Shara Proctor, a disappointing ninth in the Olympic long jump, Christine Ohuruogu and Andrew Osagie will also be in action on Friday, the first of 14 Diamond League meetings. Osagie has the most daunting challenge, running the 800m against the dazzling David Rudisha, the Kenyan who broke the world record in London. Ohuruogu has started the season in encouraging form running 50.58sec at a meeting in Jamaica last weekend. Among her opponents is Allyson Felix, 200m gold medallist in London who steps up a distance.

 

Brits to watch in Doha...

Christine Ohuruogu (400m) - The Olympic silver medallist produced a superb run in Kingston on Saturday to finish second behind Jamaica's Stephanie McPherson. Ohuruogu's time of 50.58 seconds was her best ever season opener and it's worth noting she has only once run faster than that in the lead-up to a major championships.

 

Robbie Grabarz (high jump) - Britain's flamboyant high jumper, with a penchant for fixing up old cars, has been somewhat under the radar since a superb season in 2012 when he was consistently the top performer in his event. Bahrain's Mutaz Essa Barshim, who won bronze with Grabarz at London 2012, is the man to beat following a PB of 2.37metres indoors earlier in the year.

 

Shara Proctor (long jump) - For an athlete who got close to the dream seven-metre target last season, Anguillan-born Proctor has had mixed fortunes. She mustered a disappointing fourth place at the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg in March but won in Birmingham with a best of 6.78m. She has outdoor competition under her belt pre-Doha following a recent competition in Florida, Gainsville.

 

Tiffany Porter (100m hurdles) - Perhaps her biggest claim to fame was being caught up in the Plastic Brits row in March last year. A back problem curtailed her progress outdoors and Olympic ambitions. She has a best this year of 12.94 seconds, some way short of her PB of 12.56, and, in Doha, faces five Americans who beat her when she ran that time in Des Moines in the US last month.

 

Andrew Osagie (800m) - Osagie smashed his personal best in the Olympic final last summer, having previously become the first British man to qualify for the Olympic final over that distance for 20 years. That final time of 1minute 43.77seconds put him fourth on the all-time UK list but still three seconds off world record holder David Rudisha, who will be among his rivals in Doha.

 

Jack Green (400m hurdles) - Green has a point to prove in 2013 after crashing out at London 2012 and failing to make the final. His run in Doha will be his first in competition outdoor over the hurdles. His stride pattern has been the biggest cause for concern and he faces tough opposition against Bershawn Jackson and LJ Van Zyl.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Developer (ASP.NET, F#, SQL, MVC, Bootstrap, JavaScript)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Payment Developer (Swift, FOX, Vigil, .NET, SQL)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Payment Dev...

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?