Kurt Michael (Year 9) is a rising star in the field of Athletics. Aged only 15 years old, he won silver in the Men High Jump U16 at the 2022 Australian Athletics Championships at Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre. The Championships saw more than 3,500 track and field athletes of all ages compete.
Mr Reece Condon, SGCS Sports Coordinator sat down with Kurt to discuss his journey from the playground to the podium.
What sport are you currently involved in?
My earliest memories of being involved in sport are probably before I started school, as I used to play club soccer with all my mates at Sans Souci. I was about 5 or 6 years old. I also started Little Athletics when I was around that age too. Right now, during the winter season, I play soccer for Connells Point and train all year round for Athletics, with my main event being the high jump.
How did you get involved in soccer and how did you get involved in Athletics?
I started playing soccer because my whole family are really into soccer, and Athletics was a summer sport that I could do. My dad had been involved in Athletics when he was younger as well, so he thought it would be a good for me.
What level did your Dad achieve?
He was a pretty good high jumper. He made it to Regionals and at 16, was jumping 1.70 metres.
What height are you currently jumping at 16?
I’m not 16 years old yet! I’m nearly 15 and jumping at around 1.95m and very close to 2 metres.
So technically, you could jump straight over me?
How tall are you?
I’m 1.76 metres
I could jump over myself too.
Wow that’s impressive!
Do you think that the sports that you play help you with the other sports?
Yes, 100%. Every sport that I play helps and compliments the other sport. The running and fitness required for soccer compliments athletics. In turn, the techniques I have gained from athletics, compliments soccer.
What character traits do you feel are important in succeeding in sport and why?
The character traits that I think are most important to succeed are probably determination, persistence, and discipline. Determination is to always have that drive inside of you and wants you to achieve your best every time. When you’re an athlete, you are not going to always perform your best every time, so you persist through the bad days to get to good days. And discipline, because there are times you miss out on parties and hanging out with friends just to train or enter events.
I like that you mentioned persistence because you aren’t always going to achieve your best, and you’re going to have off days. How do you deal with those kinds of setbacks?
Yeah, especially after Nationals, I jumped from 1.95m and then at training the week later, I could barely jump at all. I don’t think I even made the height needed. Well, I know that it isn’t how I normally jump so just do what I usually do and train and hope that next week I’d be better.
So, you rely on your past experience to keep perspective about your performance.
What is the latest event you have participated in and what level did you achieve?
For high jump at the Nationals (2022 Australian Athletics Championships), I placed equal first, which is pretty insane. But the other competitor wanted to do a jump off instead of sharing the medal. With a jump off, you both have another attempt at the height. If you both miss, the height is lowered, and if you both make it, the height increases. You keep going until one competitor doesn’t make it, so it came to that, and I came second.
So, he made the height, and you didn’t?
Eventually Yes. We both cleared 1.94 so bar was raised to 1.97, which we both missed. We then both cleared 1.95 so bar was raised again to 1.97, which he cleared and I missed
Wow, that’s a reflection of your character, what was behind your decision to want to share the medal?
For me, I wanted to share the medal as it would have been my first gold medal at Nationals. It was a really amazing experience. I would have been happy with a gold medal even if we were sharing it. I didn’t see the point in taking a risk, where the outcome was that only one of us could win gold.
Finally, what advice would you give another student who would like to improve at their chosen sport, or become more involved in sport?
To get better in your chosen sport, persistence and determination is a really, big deal. Like I said before, you’re obviously going to have bad days, and you must persist through those days if you want to get better. If you want to get more involved in sport, my advice is to get involved in everything at school. If there’s a gala day coming up, try out for it. For school sport, try your best to make the team and if you make the team, try your best every Wednesday.
Thank you, Kurt, for spending some time with us. We look forward to seeing you develop in the future.