Grabarz keen to push medal claims

21 June 2012 / 16:12

As Olympic medal contenders go, high jumper Robbie Grabarz would certainly qualify as one of the most interesting and unusual Britain has to offer.

For a start is the fact that he dropped out of university, leaving a course he cannot even remember the full name of, to buy and restore a classic car. Then there is the fact that he happily admits to "looking vacant" all the time because there is deliberately nothing going around in his head, while he also recently posed naked for a magazine.

But Grabarz is certainly considered a medal contender after winning the Diamond League meeting in Rome with an outdoor personal best of 2.33 metres and following that nine days later with another PB of 2.36m in New York. That jump is just one centimetre short of the world-leading 2.37m cleared by Russia's former world indoor champion Ivan Ukhov.

"I planned to be here," the 24-year-old from Cambridgeshire said ahead of this weekend's Olympic trials in Birmingham. "I've not surprised myself yet. I'm still just going with the flow and taking things as they come. The way my training is set up to go I'm just making up for last year and catching up.

"I would have been surprised if I hadn't performed. I hadn't set any figures down, if I set one and get there then I'll plateau so I never set a figure to get to. It was more of a decision to just do it. I've been doing athletics since I was 11, but I just carried on meandering through.

"I got to 24 and thought it was time, you can perform now, you're not a junior or first-year senior any more, you've got no excuses, so I just made that decision to step up."

That decision certainly had the desired effect and Grabarz reached his first senior final at the World Indoors in Istanbul in March, where he finished sixth, before the performances in Rome and New York which really made his competitors sit up and take notice.

"I think I dropped a few jaws in Rome and in New York as well when those guys saw me perform like that when they probably don't even know who I am," Grabarz added. "That's cool, I quite like that, I like to shock people. I like to be understated and let my actions speak for themselves."

His coach Fuzz Ahmed - a former actor who appeared in The Bill and Eastenders - is considerably happier to do the talking, claiming one of Grabarz's opponents would need to be "unbelievable" in London to deny his athlete gold. But Grabarz does not exactly shy away from such expectations himself, adding: "I see him (Ahmed) every day, I get it in the ear all the time.

"You have to believe things, you have to dream big. If I was dreaming about the bronze medal Fuzz would probably hit me, because if you dream about the bronze medal that's the best you are going to do. You have to dream about the gold. I can only control what I do on the day, so it's true."