Flying high . . . Nikki in action at the Emirates Arena (photo by Bobby Gavin)
Nikki Manson has urged Scottish athletes at all ages and stages to carry on finding creative ways to keep training.
The GB international broke the Scottish Indoor Record for Women’s High Jump twice in the early weeks of 2020 – with leaps of 1.92m and 1.93m – but found competitive opportunities next to non-existent thereafter as the global pandemic bit deep.
During last summer, Nikki was among those top athletes who helped us in our ‘I Challenge You‘ series of exercise demo videos on our YouTube channel as we promoted ‘athletics at home’.
Current restrictions may take many athletes, coaches and parents back to those scenarios and the Giffnock North AC athlete and Glasgow Athletics Association administrator knows invention and innovation is required.
‘There are good facilities in Glasgow but at the moment they’re not always open, so we have to be quite inventive with what we do anyway and we saw it as an opportunity,’ said Nikki, looking back to last summer’s lockdown but also ahead.
‘Normally you have a hard winter block, then indoors then a couple of weeks then straight into outdoors – we were thinking: what can we do in this time? We just need to train hard.
Spicing up my stair workout with my new 5kg weight vest 😇🌶 As a team we’re trying our best to use this time wisely, keeping the intensity high, learning new tricks and maintaining good hygiene! #homeathletics #StayHomeSaveLives #highjump pic.twitter.com/1wesHYS7kV
— Nikki Manson (@Mansonn15) May 7, 2020
‘Glasgow is hilly, so we’ll do some hills and get back to winter training. I like doing plyos, I like doing stairs. There’s a staircase a two minute walk from my house at a train station.
‘Normally I’d do stadium stairs but they’re much closer/quicker; there were those stairs inside the train station but those ones were just outside.
‘I’d do both for a couple of weeks then we had to overload it and we got a weights vest which was the first time I’d used that which was really good.
‘The park – I used to do sessions in that park when I was wee. I used to go and throw with my dad or go and play football. I used to go quite a lot but hadn’t really been much as an adult so it was nice to go back there.
‘We just kind of messed about for a while. We just did things we wanted to do rather than things we needed to do because there was no set timeline.
‘I was thinking what do I like doing, what can I be better at? It was a bit of a respite period when we got to chill a bit without pressure.
‘I’m not a social media person but I’ve learned it’s important and I know some of the younger athletes probably do look up to me. Giffnock have a young High Jump group and they’ve been wanting me to do a session with them for a while but this isn’t the time to have an extra body at these sessions.
‘When Scottish Athletics asked me to do some of the fun challenges it was important to show them that I was still training at that time. If you put your mind to it you can do quite a lot. ‘
The need to be creative around training during 2020 has altered the high jumper’s overall approach.
‘What I did realise during this time was that we do have quite good facilities in Glasgow when they’re open, but you don’t need these fantastic facilities – we can do other things.
‘I do like indoors and I like jumping indoors and I’ve probably relied on that for a long time, but it was quite nice to be out in the fresh air and having to deal with the elements and actually just to get fresh air and be with nature rather than the stuffy Emirates Arena.
‘So lockdown training has made me tougher. I’ve had to get used to everything I need to bring: equipment, jackets, gloves, whatever.
‘I remember in March doing circle drills with so many layers on, pretty much a ski jacket, gloves, but then we got some really good weather in April and May and you were wearing shorts and t-shirt – and normally, even at that time and if the weather was like that, I’d still have been jumping inside.’
Nikki represented GB and NI at the 2018 European Champs in Berlin and continues to aim high.
‘I’m 26 now which probably seems quite old to a lot of people but I’d probably argue I’m a bit of a late bloomer.
‘I wasn’t a fantastic junior, I’ve really only come through the last few years. I think an extra year to work on everything I think will definitely help.
‘Looking at comp calendar it looks like events will take place a little bit later. If the Euro Indoors goes ahead I’ll be looking to try to go to that indoors.’
With thanks to Katy Barden and to Athletics Weekly
Nikki after her Scottish Record leap at the Emirates last year (before then clearing 1.93m in the Czech Republic) – photo by Bobby Gavin