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article imageChatting with Charles Austin: Olympic gold medalist high jumper Special

By Markos Papadatos     Aug 8, 2020 in Sports
Olympic gold medalist and American high jumper Charles Austin (Team USA) chatted with Digital Journal's Markos Papadatos about his athletic career and So High Sports and Fitness.
"Quarantine has been interesting," he admitted. "Just like everyone else, I need to work my through it and wait for things to get better. I'm alive and I'm healthy and my family is good."
He was the 1996 Olympic gold medalist in the men's high jump and a two-time world champion in the sport (1991 and 1997); moreover, he was inducted into the United States Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2012. "Those were great. In 1992, I wasn't in my best, and things didn't turn out the way I wanted them to, so to come back in 1996, put it all together and win was a great feeling," he said. "I appreciate the journey to those wins since it made me stronger both physically and mentally."
Yesterday was the 29th anniversary of his American record in the men's high jump, at 2.40 meters, which still stands to this day. He had set that milestone on August 7, 1991 at the Weltklasse Zurich meet in Zurich, Switzerland. "That is unbelievable. Growing up, high jumping wasn't something I wanted to do. It fell into my lap in my senior year and I just ran with it. Even in the years when I was competing, high jumping was great since it afforded me the opportunity to compete. That was my driving force. I am a natural competitor," he said.
"My first love was boxing and then I went to basketball, and once I started high jumping, I had an opportunity to compete and I got better in the sport," he said.
He is also the owner and a trainer at So High Sports and Fitness in Texas. "My sports performance center is going well. We are going into our 14th year so it has been good. We have been having a lot of fun and helping others achieve their goals, as well as helping people get college scholarships and improve their overall fitness. It is great to be of assistance to these individuals," he said.
Regarding his plans for the future, he said, I am still doing the So High Sports and Fitness and I created a new piece of fitness equipment called the Total Body Board. "I am really focused on these two things," he said. "Other than that, I am a family man. I have one son in high school and I am trying to help him get where he wants to be, and enjoy life."
On the impact of technology in track and field, he said, "When I was competing, I coached and trained myself. I would have myself video taped when I was training, and I would go home and watch it. Then, I would study other jumpers and I would try to piece things together. I didn't get wrapped up so much in the biomechanics of things. It was more of a feel for me. I'm a visual person. That was my strength."
For young and aspiring high jumpers, he encouraged them to "study." "To become good at it, you need to study and you need to learn the sport. Try to apply what you are doing and try to understand the basics. Find out what works for you, and you need to put the work in and be dedicated to your craft," he said.
When asked if there were any moments in his career that helped define him, he elaborated, "It was the journey. In my last year of college, I won the NCAA championship. In my first year out of college, I set the American record," he said. "I had a knee injury in 1992, and in July of 1993, I had surgery, where I was told I would never compete again. Then, I just believed in myself. I had the confidence in myself that I would return just as good, if not better than before. Those were my defining moments."
On the title of the current chapter of his life, he responded, "Believe."
"We all have a drive and a level of focus. I never looked at it from the point of being a champion. I wanted to be the best. It wasn't only about winning, it was about setting records and to be dominant. It's just a mindset and an inner drive to put in the work and being dominant. I wanted to maximize on my potential and my abilities," he explained about the commonalities that he sees among champions.
He defined the word success as holistic "growth" and "getting better." "That goes in all parts of your life," he said.
For his fans and supporters, Austin said, "The fans believe in you and send you such great energy. I always wanted to go out and perform at a high level and give them that pleasure as well. I always wanted them to see me perform at my best."
To learn more about Olympic gold medalist high jumper Charles Austin, check out his official homepage.
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