Feeling the heat: Long jumper turns up the temperature as Tokyo approaches

Tokyo’s summer was always expected to provide the most challenging conditions seen for athletes at any Olympic Games. And that was before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Constant mask wearing and other tight restrictions on athletes are only going to make dealing with the oppressive conditions that much harder.

Long jumper Brooke Stratton working in the heat chamber at the Victorian Institute of Sport.Credit:Luis Ascui

“We will use it more this year, which is compounded by the COVID situation, where athletes typically can’t prepare by having overseas competitions and camps as part of their preparation, so are preparing at home.”

Commonwealth Games silver-medal long jumper Brooke Stratton battles with the heat in competition, not when she is actually competing but between her jumps, when she spends a lot of time standing around near the pit waiting to jump.

She has started training in the heat chamber – riding an exercise bike in temperatures of more than 35 degrees and with humidity equivalent to that likely to be experienced in a Tokyo summer – to start getting accustomed to the conditions.

“It’s definitely something I will have to incorporate into my training between now and Tokyo,” Stratton said this week. “It’s going to be really helpful. Whether it is in the heat chamber or sitting in the sauna or spa for an extensive period, it’s about getting used to extended time in the heat.

‘No other host city of the modern Olympic Games, dating back to 1896, demonstrates such challenging heat levels.’

“I would have loved to have headed to Europe mid-year and get high-level competition over there but I think in terms of risk and the safest option, heading to northern Queensland [for the competitions Athletics Australia is staging] is definitely the easy way to go.”

The heat chamber and training methods have a physical but also psychological impact with Stratton and others not only learning how to deal with the heat but knowing they have done all they can to prepare for the Games.

Stratton is facing her second Olympics after finishing seventh in Rio. She feels this time like she belongs among the world’s best.

She managed niggles in her knees during the domestic season and is not in peak form yet won another national title earlier this month in Sydney when she jumped 6.84 metres, the fourth-best she has produced.

Stratton has her sights set on a medal in Tokyo.Credit:Luis Ascui

“To be honest, I really don’t know how I jumped 6.84. It’s honestly hard to believe, so it’s exciting to know what I could hopefully do when the body is right,” Stratton said.

“I definitely feel in the medal frame I just need to believe I can do it, which is the hardest thing for me, just knowing I belong out there and can jump those seven-metre jumps …

“It had been a few years since I had been jumping those 6.90-and-beyond distances so now I have been able to get back up there gives me confidence.”

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