Series04 Jul 2016

First impressions – Nicole Buchler


Nicole Buchler in the pole vault at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 (© AFP / Getty Images)

Pole vaulter Nicole Buchler has been a regular top-three finisher on the IAAF Diamond League circuit this summer. Here the Swiss record-holder offers her thoughts on our first impressions questions.

First competition

It came three months after I started pole vaulting in the city of Berne. I remember before the competition I had a workout and managed to clear 3.00m, so I set the bar at 2.80m for my first height, but I no-heighted. It was so embarrassing. I didn’t compete again until the following indoor season in January, although I remember I cleared 3.20m.  

First sport

In the town where I grew up (Mangling) there were two sports clubs – one was for rhythmic gymnastics and the other for tennis. I started both sports from the age of six. I remember being selected for a junior team for rhythmic gymnastics from the age of eight and that’s when I dropped tennis. I went on to compete at world and European championships in the sport of rhythmic gymnastics.

First athletics meeting outside of Switzerland

That came during the 2005 indoor when I competed in Lingolsheim in France. It was the first time I’d cleared 4.00m and set a Swiss under-23 record. I really liked the atmosphere of the meeting. They put on a big show with lights and music. I had been used to competing in front of very few people in Switzerland, but I remember a big crowd watched that event. It was fun.

First international medal

It came at the 2007 World University Games in Bangkok and it was very unexpected. I had experienced a World University Games two years earlier in Turkey and it was cool to spend time in an Olympic village-type atmosphere. I recall the weather was very hot and humid in Thailand and I had gone into that meet with a PB of 4.20m. I needed a third attempt to clear my opening height at 3.80m, but I managed to stay in the competition so to go on to jump 4.35m and take a bronze medal was amazing.

First injury

I have been lucky in that I have not had too many injuries in my career. One of the first big injuries I suffered came in 2010 at the Donetsk indoor meeting. I landed on the bar and twisted and tore the ligaments in my foot.

First athletics disappointment

That was probably in my first ever meeting when I no-heighted.

First media interview

In athletics it probably came after I jumped 4.00m for the first time (in Lingolsheim) and set an under-23 record. Earlier in my rhythmic gymnastics career I had been interviewed many times. I once remember qualifying for the national team when three girls in total from my region had qualified. I remember a photographer from the local newspaper coming to take our picture.

First fashion disaster

I was never into fashion. I often held on to my shoes and clothes for so long that I grew out of my clothes and was happy to wear shoes with holes in them – even though my mum kept reminding me to go out with her to buy new shoes!

First thing you learned to cook

It was pasta, so put the pasta in boiling water. Easy. I love eating pasta, although I rarely eat it as I have to watch my weight.

First movie that made you cry

It would have to be a Disney movie, The Lion King. When Simba’s dad dies, I think everyone cries!

First car

I was given a red Honda from my parents about six years ago which now has 270,000km on the clock. The car was built in 2002 and I still have it today.

First pet

It was a guinea pig. My sister and I each got one for Christmas. We later had a family dog. Today my husband and I have an Australian cattle dog. My husband brought it out from the United States when he moved to Switzerland. As my husband works full-time, I take the dog out for a walk most days.

First CD/download

Maybe something from the Backstreet Boys! I was never a big fan, but growing up everyone else was a fan so I felt I had to have a song by them. Sometimes it is fun to hear an old Backstreet Boys song on the radio, although it is probably not something I would choose to listen to.

Steve Landells for the IAAF