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High jumpers know anything can happen

High jumpers know anything can happen

Before every attempt, Cal State Stanislaus jumper Abdullah Dosu always visualizes his high jumps.

POSTED May 10, 2011 9:38 p.m.

In the high jump, it’s not just about athleticism and the natural ability to leap into the air — though those are definitely good qualities to have. It’s also about an athlete’s mental preparation and his or her knack of being able to overcome a lifeless, horizontal bar that sits a few feet above the ground.

“With the high jump,” Cal State Stanislaus junior Abdullah Dosu said, “anything can happen.”

So that’s why he and his fellow jumpers practice and practice until they have their technique down. Mastering the high jump is an art form, one that takes years of work and confidence-building.

For Dosu, he’s a basketball player who’s still working on bending his body enough so he can overcome that daunting bar. His athleticism alone isn’t enough.

“Because I can jump, I use that to my advantage,” he said. “My form isn’t the best. I get up because I have hops. I’m trying to work on that.”

The country’s best high jumpers will descend onto the Al Brenda Track and its surroundings at Warrior Stadium on the Stanislaus campus on May 26-28 to compete in this year’s NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships, an event that is expected to bring in a much-needed economic boost and thousands of athletes, coaches and spectators. The high jump is just part of the festivities.

Even so, it’s not an easy event to conquer. It’s been part of the Olympic Games since ancient Greece. Over the years, the event has evolved. It used to be, in the very early days, that athletes had to jump over a horizontal bar — which is placed between two poles — onto dirt. Now, it’s a lot safer.

Jumpers now land into soft padding. Their techniques and approaches have changed. Stanislaus women’s jumper Rio Schwalbach, who cleared 5 feet, 3 1/4 inches at last week’s California Collegiate Athletic Association Championships, begins a few feet from the right of the high jump pit. She then runs at curved angle from the right before her body is close enough to the bar, where she then uses her 10 years of gymnastics to bend herself over the bar.

“It’s so scary,” Schwalbach said. “You can barely hit the bar and it goes off but you can hit it a lot and it stays on.”

To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.

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