Series28 Sep 2015

Personal bests – Derek Drouin


High jump winner Derek Drouin at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 (© Getty Images)

World high jump champion Derek Drouin enjoyed an unforgettable moment at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 last month.

Here the Canadian offers his thoughts by answering our Personal Bests questions. 

Best achievement in athletics

It seems ridiculous to say my 2012 Olympic bronze medal over my world championship gold, but there is something about the Olympics which makes it so different to any other competition, so I feel like I treasure that bronze more than any other performance.

It not like I jumped a great height (he was one of three bronze medallists with 2.29m) but winning a medal there really jump started my career. It was a real turning point.

Best friend in athletics

In terms of the high jump, Mike Mason, my fellow Canadian is my greatest friend. We get along so well because we are very similar but I also feel like we don’t get unnecessarily competitive with each other.

We often practise together and room together at major meets. I think I compete better when he is around and I think he says the same thing about me. Away from the high jump, I am good friends with the Canadian steeplechaser Jessica Furlan. We may complete in very different events but we have got along well since we first met. We have helped each other get through some tough times.

Best athletics venue

I love competing at my home college track in Indiana (Drouin studied at Indiana University). It is a place where I feel really comfortable. I competed there at the start of May.

It is nice to compete at a place where I have trained for many hours, and it is nice for family and friends to get the chance to watch me.  Outside of this, hands down the Bird’s Nest Stadium is the coolest stadium I’ve competed at. I was blown away by the place. It was phenomenal and I would jump, no pun intended, at the chance to compete there again.

Biggest rival

Erik Kynard, the 2012 Olympic silver medallist. Anybody who has watched my career for the last five years will tell you he has been my biggest rival because we were in the same year at college and competed against each other time and time again. Today we regularly compete in the Diamond League and always finish one place behind or ahead of each other. We have been fairly evenly matched for many years.

Best athlete ever seen

It is such an obvious answer because he’s married to Brianne (Theisen-Eaton), my fellow Canadian, and I’ve spent so much time around him but I’ve always thought Ashton Eaton was an unbelievable athlete. He makes everything look so athletic and so easy. He’s incredibly talented at all events and I’ve got to the point where I don’t think I would put anything past him.

Greatest disappointment

I guess the biggest negative was fracturing my foot the year before London. Even though I was able to recover in time to jump well in London, I still felt it has changed my career quite a bit and I’m still dealing with the effects of it. I definitely think had I not had the injury, I could have jumped higher at the London Olympics, which would have resulted in a higher spot on the podium.

Greatest regret

It was the day I fractured my foot because I had a weird feeling that something was not right. It happened on my third attempt on the last bar. I had already won the competition and, although I didn’t say anything to my coach at the time, I felt I should take that final jump. I can’t explain why.

I look back and wonder what would have happened had I acted on instinct and not jumped. I’m convinced that the injury would have happened at some stage – and perhaps it was better that it happened earlier rather than later and closer to the Olympics – but it is still easy to wonder 'what if'?

Best achievement outside of track and field

I would say my degree in kinesiology, but I’m a person that is not easily satisfied, so I always look back and think what I could have done better. 

Steve Landells for the IAAF