Glasgow 2014 high jump silver medallist Isobel Pooley used extreme methods to block out news of rivals’ progress during final
Taking “being in the zone” to the extreme, Isobel Pooley said putting her hands over her ears and singing songs to herself during the competition was key to claiming Commonwealth high jump silver on Friday night.
The 21-year-old Englishwoman was leading the competition outright with a perfect record up to and including a personal best 1.92m, but such was her focus that she did everything she could to avoid knowing her position and how her competitors were doing.
The ever-smiling Pooley had a grin even broader than usual when she cleared 1.92m. Ultimately though, the 6ft4in (1.92m) athlete went out at 1.94m as Australia’s Eleanor Patterson succeeded and she admitted afterwards: “I couldn’t watch. I knew I had to stay in the zone. Maybe when I’m a bit more mature I won’t have to stick my fingers in my ears and go ‘la la la, I don’t want to hear’.
“The commentators are there for the audience. As an athlete I don’t want to hear. I just focused on me and it worked out. I think a lot of people thought I was crazy, walking around with my hands over my ears and singing nonsense songs to myself. I just needed to stay in the zone.”
Pooley, who missed out on making the European qualification standard, trains with Olympic high jump bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz under highly respected coach Fuzz Ahmed and said: “Rob is a huge inspiration to me. Working with him has been one of the most amazing experiences.”
The Aldershot, Farnham & District athlete, who moved to equal 10th on the UK all-time list after improving on her best by a centimetre, said the result had done wonders for her confidence and she looks forward to “flying higher” in the future.
“I think every human carries doubt and will be calling on those limiting beliefs,” she explained. “You put a limit on it and say I can only be as good as this. You just have to go for it and accept that no one really knows how good you can be. You never know how high you can fly until you spread your wings and I think I’ve unfurled them today and hopefully I can fly even higher in the future.”