The new height of excellence

Tom McKenzie
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History was made on this month at Mount Hutt College, when a 16 year old broke a decades-old high jump record. Tom McKenzie rose to the challenge of smashing the 40 year record, previously held by Geoff Gerven back in 1982.

The former record of 1.76 metres was bettered by Tom’s height of 1.77 metres on March 8, which anyone will tell you in athletics is a huge achievement.

In actual fact back in 2022, Tom jumped 1.83 metres, however the records can only be set at senior level. One would suspect this means he has plenty more in the tank to achieve further greatness.

So, when it came to the Ashburton Aoraki Champs athletics event at the Ashburton Domain last week, all eyes wereon Tom to see if he could go one better than 1.77m.

Unfortunately the youngster couldn’t beat his record, and after competing in several track events, no doubt tiredness had begun to set in by the end of the day when his high jump event featured.

Nonetheless, Tom will have gained more experience under his belt and will now look forward to the South Island Secondary Schools Championship at the end of the month.

The Ashburton event took place in the same week the world lost Dick Fosbury, the inspirational high jumper, whose seemingly unorthodox approachto high jumping at the time set the standards for everyone who followed in the event up to present day. The American’s backward style leap became known as the ‘Fosbury Flop’, revolutionising the sport from the traditional approach to jumping.

Tom was saddened to hear of Dick Fosbury’s passing and held him in high regard, an inspiration to all who venture into the sport.

Tom said he takes much interest in the sport and enjoys watching the event on television whenever he can. When asked if this is a sport he can see himself sticking and progressing with, Tom said he hasn’t really thought about it too much and is just enjoying his success in the short term.

“I’ve been told with the coaching and plenty more practice I could reach a further 15 centimetres to my jumping height. It’s definitely something I will think about as I think it would be worth doing.”