Canada’s Derek Drouin joined an elite club of only 18 high jumpers when he cleared the 2.40m barrier at last year’s Drake Relays. As this year’s meet approaches, the world and Olympic bronze medallist tells SPIKES how he achieved that magical mark.

Say it. See it. Believe it.

Derek Drouin was a college freshman at the Indiana University Bloomington when he first set the 2.40m mark as a target.

“My long jump team-mates, who were all a lot more animated than me, used to tease of me about not getting overly excited during competition,” says Drouin.

“Then one time they asked me how high I would have to jump before I would celebrate. I said, offhandedly, that if ever I jump 7ft 10ins [2.40m] I would celebrate, although back then I probably didn’t think it was going to happen.

“I only really saw it as a possibility when I saw it with my eyes for the first time. That was when [Mutaz] Barshim jumped it at Prefontaine in 2013 [Drouin set a national record of 2.36m that day]. I thought ‘if he can jump it, why can’t I?’”

Find a good coach

A cornerstone of Drouin’s success has been the consistent work put in with his coach, Jeff Huntoon. The pair have worked together since the Canadian started out at Indiana University in the fall of 2008 – and the high jumper is appreciative.

“We get along and work well together and he has contributed to the successes that I have had,” admits Drouin. “He has had great success with other athletes and it is easy to put my trust in someone who has done well in the past.”

Jumping is believing

Jump higher than the world record

Drouin has jumped a mind boggling 2.55m in training. That’s a full 10cm over Javier Sotomayor’s world record!

Sure, Drouin did it with the aid of a ramp, but doing so gave him the confidence to make an assault on 2.40m, which no longer seemed such an intimidating mark.

“It [using the ramp] gives more elevation and gets me used to being able to drive up for a little longer, which is necessary to reach those high bars,” he says. “Most high jumpers get used to going over high heights, whether using a springboard or a ramp.”

Picture jumping the height

Drouin has harnessed the power of visualisation throughout his career. After adopting the strategy almost without thinking in his formative years, the Sarnia-born leaper believes visualisation helped him bring the 2.40m mark in his sights.

“Without putting much thought into it, I often used to get to the track early, sit down on the high jump mat, and if my PB [at the time] was 2.15m, I would put the bar up to 2.18m and take a look at it.

“In hindsight it set me up to do well because I was always around the heights I wanted to clear. So when I got to a meet it was no big deal. For me to clear 2.40m was not so far-fetched because I’d looked up at that bar so many times in practice.”

Prep right

Drouin cleared 2.40m in his first full year of being a pro. He believes this is no coincidence.

“Unlike when I was a college athlete, when I had to compete for the team in a full indoor season, for the first time last year I had the luxury of picking and choosing meets and I decided to forgo my entire indoor season. It gave me a longer base season to get myself into shape.”

His first competition of the 2014 outdoor season was the Drake Relays. The rest is history.

Derek Drouin ()

Drouin with fellow members of the 2.40m club, Barshim and Bohdan Bondarenko

Train like a decathlete

Unusually for a high jump specialist, Drouin trains as a multi-eventer. He targets in particular the hurdles, shot put and long jump alongside, of course, the high jump.

“It is not unusual for me to only have one high jump session per week,” he explains. “I basically train as a combined eventer.

“I get a lot of benefits from it. All power athletes do a speed workout and I get mine through the hurdles. I also don’t do box work and I’ve only just started bounding, so I find doing hurdles a hidden way to do my plyometrics.

“The shot put, to me, is like getting a whole body workout – like a med ball workout. Long jump is another way of getting a jump workout but operating at a slightly different angle.

“I’ve found I have escaped the overuse injuries that high jumpers often get by doing the same thing many times a week.”

Find the best facilities

Though Drouin graduated from Indiana University in 201, he remains wedded to the campus and uses it as his training base. The top quality indoor and outdoor tracks are an attraction, but the jewel in its crown, according to the 24-year-old jumper, is its stunning weight room.

“I haven’t seen a better one,” he says. “I don’t think I’ve ever had to wait for a machine or a platform. It’s a great situation for me and I’d be hard pressed to give it up.”

Derek Drouin ()

Ten days after competing at London's 2014 Anniversary Games, Drouin won Commonwealth gold in Glasgow

Be confident

After struggling with a minor hamstring injury, Drouin approached his first serious outdoor competition of 2014 lacking in self-belief. However, three days before the Drake Relays, he cleared 2.28m off a shortened run-up at an indoor competition, which took part in a grocery store.

“My confidence was growing,” says Drouin, who competes with a box of Teddy Grahams (other brands of Teddys are available) to snack on at most competitions. “I talked to Molly Beckwith [1:59 800m runner] and she told me that I told her I felt like I was going to jump really well that day.” He did.

Let yourself go

Describing the moment of clearing 2.40m as “pretty surreal”, in Des Moines he even made his former college team-mates proud by celebrating... a little.

“I celebrated more than I normally do and a photographer took a cool pic of me,” he explains. “I thought 'why do I not see more pics of me like that?'. Then I realised I hardly ever celebrate!”