Q+A with World University Games Athlete - Hamish Kerr

Pictured: Hamish Kerr, following his recent NZ record-equalling jump at the Oceania Champs.

Massey Academy of Sport media consultant Hannah Rowe caught up with the current New Zealand men’s high jump champion and recent Massey University graduate Hamish Kerr to talk about his recent Oceania Champs, the upcoming World Uni Games in Italy and everything in between. Graduating last year with a Bachelor of Agri-Commerce, Kerr has been in an intensive training programme in his new home of Christchurch and is now taking his jumping to new heights.

1.     You’ve just equalled the national high jump record of 2.30m (which has stood for 19 years) at the Oceania Champs, and beaten last year’s Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist! How are you feeling?

Over the moon is a terrible jump related pun but is also a huge understatement! In the process I got an automatic qualifier for World Champs in September this year, so I’m fizzing for the opportunity to go out and compete with all the best guys in the world.

2.     This is the perfect lead in for you given the World University Games are coming up in Italy on the 3rd of July. What excites you the most about this opportunity?

Uni Games to this day remains my favourite outing in the fern. Admittedly it was my first, which added to the buzz, but the fact it's a multi-sport games, with over 7000 other student athletes competing is pretty cool.

3.     You are part of 47-athlete New Zealand team. What is it like travelling with a contingent of different athletes and getting to be part of a team bigger than just athletics?

I’m a real student of sport and I’m constantly looking at ways to optimise my processes, so chatting to other athletes is the perfect way to do that. I love the community feel that is developed through the common connection sport brings as well.

4.     You are a returning athlete to these games, missing the final last time by one spot – what learnings will you take from 2017 into Italy?

Probably the best thing I have under my belt is that I know what to expect. I definitely got swept off my feet by all the atmosphere and the sheer size of the event last time, but now I know what to expect so will be able to prepare just that little bit better!

5.     What does your preparation look like over the next week before the games start?

The athletics team is currently training/competing in Australia at the moment, however we will be headed to Europe in the next few days, with about a week before my event once we touch down! High jump training is all about being fresh for events, so the next few weeks won’t be super training intense thankfully.

6.     You’ve said in previous interviews that high jump, like many sports, can be a huge mental challenge especially when it comes to high pressure events such as the World Uni Games. How do you work on your mental game to ensure you are ready for the pressure?

Mental game is 100% the difference between a good athlete and a world class one. I work with my coach and mental skills coach to constantly try replicate the high pressure situations we have in comps, without actually doing comps.



7.     Pressure isn’t just something you’d experience as an athlete. How have you managed to stamp your authority on the athletics stage all whilst completing a University degree?

Other than the book side of it, Uni taught me so much that I now apply to my career as an athlete. Preparing for a comp effectively is pretty much like doing an assignment, and how you manage the pressure is similar to exams. In terms of fitting training with study, I reckon they play off each other so well. Keeping a healthy mind and body sounds cliché but it’s pretty essential for sport.

8.     Being an athlete isn’t all butterflies and rainbows. What has been your hardest challenge in your recent experiences?

The hardest thing I probably have to deal with at the moment is how to switch off. I’m a very fierce competitor in the heat of the moment, but who wants a flatmate or team member who’s constantly like that over everything! Balancing the two mindsets is always a challenge but one I’m working on.

9.     In an ideal scenario, how do you see the next couple of years shaping up for you?

In terms of major championships, staking my claim as a world class high jumper at the upcoming World Championships is up there, as well as the Olympics next year. Overall though I just want to keep improving my heights, learning more about myself, and hopefully explore some pretty cool places.

10.     Finally, what advice would you give a young athlete considering studying with Massey University?

Reach out to the Academy of Sport and explore what Massey has to offer. The people are what makes Massey an awesome place to study as they provide such awesome support for athletes. I’m so happy I chose Massey to study at and I wouldn't be surprised if I’m back in the future.

Kerr will be representing New Zealand along with thirteen other  Massey athletes at this year's World University Games, across various events in Artistic Gymnastics, Athletics, Swimming, Taekwondo, and Tennis. The Academy of Sport, along with Massey University would like to wish all fourteen students, along with the rest of the New Zealand team the very best of luck in their endeavors to bring back gold!