Nicola Olyslagers wins high jump gold in thrilling finish at Glasgow

The Australian athlete cleared 1.99 metres in her final attempt to beat the defending champion from Ukraine and claim her first global title.

Nicola Olyslagers, the Australian high jumper who won the silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, has added another feather to her cap by winning the gold medal at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow. The 27-year-old achieved the feat in a dramatic fashion, clearing 1.99 metres in her third and final attempt to snatch the victory from the defending champion Yaroslava Mahuchikh of Ukraine.

Olyslagers, who had equalled the Oceania record of 2.03 metres in an outdoor meet in January, was the only jumper to match Mahuchikh’s height of 1.97 metres in the competition. However, the Ukrainian had one less failure than the Australian, and looked set to retain her title. Olyslagers, who rates her performances by writing in her “little book of gold” between jumps, gave herself a perfect score as she soared over the bar at 1.99 metres, putting the pressure on Mahuchikh, who failed to clear the same height.

Olyslagers became the eighth Australian to win gold in the indoor championships’ history, and the first since Sally Pearson in the 60-metre hurdles in 2012. She also became the first Australian woman to win the high jump title at any global event.

A proud moment for Australia

Olyslagers’ triumph was hailed by the Australian athletics community, who congratulated her on her historic achievement. Athletics Australia, the governing body of the sport in the country, tweeted: “What a performance! Nicola Olyslagers has won gold in the women’s high jump at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow with a clearance of 1.99m. Congratulations Nicola, you’ve made us all so proud!”

Olyslagers’ coach, Alex Stewart, who has been working with her since 2018, also expressed his delight and praised her mental strength. He said: “She’s a very determined and focused athlete, and she showed that today. She knew what she had to do, and she did it. She’s been working hard for this moment, and she deserves it.”

Olyslagers’ fellow high jumper and rival, Eleanor Patterson, who took silver ahead of her at the 2023 world outdoor championships in Budapest, also sent her a message of support. She said: “I’m so happy for Nicola, she’s a great competitor and a great person. She’s worked hard for this, and she’s earned it. I’m looking forward to competing with her again soon.”

A promising prospect for Paris

Olyslagers’ gold medal at Glasgow has cemented her status as one of the best high jumpers in the world, and a strong contender for the Olympic gold medal in Paris in 2024. She has improved her personal best by 10 centimetres since 2021, and has shown consistency and confidence in her performances.

Olyslagers, who has a degree in psychology and is studying for a master’s in counselling, said she was motivated by her passion for the sport and her desire to inspire others. She said: “I love high jumping, and I love challenging myself. I want to be the best I can be, and I want to show people that anything is possible if you work hard and believe in yourself.”

Olyslagers said she was looking forward to the outdoor season, and hoped to break the two-metre barrier again. She said she was also excited about the prospect of competing in Paris, where she hoped to fulfil her dream of becoming an Olympic champion.

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