Series01 Aug 2016

First impressions – Erik Kynard


Erik Kynard in the high jump at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 (© Getty Images)

Olympic silver medallist and world indoor bronze medallist Erik Kynard is one of the world’s leading high jumpers.

In the latest instalment of our first impressions series, the US champion answers a number of firsts in his life, both on and off the track.

First ever coach 

My first proper high jump coach was Eric Browning. He was a former high jumper himself and I remember he was a good influence on my development from the age of 15 through to 18. I remember he held the high school record at 2.10m, but I broke it with a clearance of 2.13m.

First high jump competition

My first competition came in middle school where I would have jumped about five feet or something like that. I’d never done high jump but I quickly improved. I would never have thought back then, that high jumping would have taken me as far as it has. 

First competition outside the USA

The 2008 World Junior (U20) Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland. Unfortunately, as I was being stretched by someone I hurt my hamstring in the days leading into the competition. When qualification came I could barely jump off the ground and I failed to make the final, finishing 19th overall with 2.10m (at the time Kynard had a best of 2.23m).

I had a rough time from a competitive point of view but in other ways it was an experience of a lifetime to discover different cultures, adjusting to a different language and time zones. The US team also did really well and I fondly remember my time competing with the likes of sprinter Curtis Mitchell, triple jumper Christian Taylor and long jumper Marquise Goodwin.

First international medal

It was a disappointment at the time but it was winning the silver medal behind Canada’s Derek Drouin at the 2009 Pan American Junior Championships in Trinidad. Derek was at college at the time while I was still at high school.

First media interview 

This would have been by a local newspaper around 2007 before a state championship. I am not really a shy or nervous kid so I found the process of being interviewed painless. I found reading the completed article intriguing, like how they used the quotations and how they misconstrued a lot of what I said.

First injury

I suffered a hip flexor injury in 2007 during the indoor season which kept me out for a while. 

First sporting idol

That would definitely have been Michael Jordan (the NBA basketball star). When I was really young, he was at the pinnacle of his career. Everything was centred on the Chicago Bulls and the movie Space Jam (starring Jordan) had just come out. He was great to watch. He was glorified by the world and he was also an icon in the African-American community. I’m sponsored by the Jordan brand and one time we spent the weekend together on a retreat, which was pretty cool.

First car

It was a 1995 Ford Explorer. My dad gave it to me and my sister crashed the car. I had it for two years, but it was a terrible car. I remember it had a leak in the roof, so every time it rained it was rough.

First pet

We had a family dog, an Akita called Buzz. He was a very energetic dog and he would definitely have been suited to the 3000m steeplechase! I do like dogs but because I travel so frequently, I currently don’t have a dog.

First thing learned to cook

Ramen noodles. I probably learned it from a cousin. My cooking skills are a little more sophisticated today.

Steve Landells for the IAAF