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The Women's Sports Alliance


Morgan Lake – Podiums, Pressure and Gaining Perspective

“I used to put so much pressure on myself and looking back there were some big events I really didn’t want to compete in,” Morgan Lake tells the WSA. “Now I’ve learned to follow my heart, because without the enjoyment you can’t have the success.”

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2024 will be significant for a plethora of reasons to Morgan Lake.

The British high jumper hopes to mark the 10-year anniversary since her “shock” World Junior Championship golden double by not only securing a place at Paris 2024, but also claiming a maiden Olympic medal, in what would be her third Games.

Were Morgan to do so, she would become her nation’s first female high jumper to achieve such an honour since Dorothy Shirley took silver 64 years ago at Rome 1960.

The path to that illusive podium has been long, with as many highs and lows befitting of an athlete competing in this particular sporting discipline.

She aims to prove the power of perseverance at the 2023 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, but knows the event is effectively another step towards what she hopes will be an even greater success in 12 months-time.

“The Worlds a year before the Olympics is always pretty special,” Morgan tells the WSA.

“You’ve got those looking to build on a strong season and others already thinking about Paris and the field should be very similar to those competing next year so it’s going to be super exciting and competitive.”

The Junior Heptathlon Star Who ‘wanted to be a long jumper’

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10 years ago, Morgan would most likely have laughed at the suggestion of becoming a high jump specialist, as her initial target was to become a long jumper, before being introduced to the multi-discipline heptathlon event.

“I came from a very competitive family and enjoyed so many sports when I was younger, like swimming, hockey, netball and tennis but athletics was always my main one,” she recalls.

“When you’re younger you do a pentathlon, which is five events rather than seven in heptathlon, I was about 12 when I did my first one, I won it and fell in love with the event.”

Morgan solidified her status as a rising star of the sport in 2014 when she claimed the World Junior heptathlon title, before adding the high jump gold to her collection days later despite initially being reluctant to compete in the event.

“Those championships were a crazy experience,” she recalls with a smile.

“I’d gone into the heptathlon ranked maybe third or fourth so I just wanted a medal, that was my only goal and to win the gold was an incredible feeling.

“The year before I’d got three ‘no jumps’ at the World Youths and at that time it felt like the world was ending, so to now become World Junior champion was absolutely huge!

“I’d entered the high jump as a backup, in case the worst happened like the year before (with the ‘no jumps’) and after winning the heptathlon I wasn’t planning to enter.

“Then I thought, well, I’m here, I might as well give it a go, but I had no expectations so to reach the final was an achievement and then to win was a huge shock!”

Exciting Potential and Performances Led To Extreme Pressure

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Her incredible achievements brought attention, but that was a new experience for Morgan and not one she felt entirely comfortable with at the time.

“After those World Junior Championships I had a lot of pressure from sponsors and media, but I put a lot of pressure on myself as well and I didn't cope with that too well,” she admits to the WSA.

“Moving from junior to senior was not a seamless transition and it did take a few years to be able to get myself back to a point where I was enjoying myself and competing didn't feel like a task or something I had to do.

“Earlier this year, at the European Indoors I just put so much pressure on myself to achieve something and I look back and now think, I didn't actually want to do those championships.

“So whatever young athletes ask me what's most important part of training or competing, first and foremost you have to enjoy it, that's when the results are going to come.

“You might have the odd bit of success, but if you’re not enjoying the sport and you don’t believe in your heart in what you’re doing, it’s not going to be long-lasting.”

Lessons Learned and Life as a Role Model

@morgan_a_lake / @CosmopolitanUK

While Morgan “loves” giving advice to young athletes she also welcomes being a role model away from the track.

In 2021 – the February edition – Morgan was on the front cover of Cosmopolitan (‘Cosmo’) magazine, promoting body positive messaging, while she has also spoken out about other passions such as race awareness and challenges young women face in society.

“Obviously I have specific goals that I want to achieve on the track, but I’m also a person away from sport and it’s not like I only eat salad, train 24/7 and can’t enjoy my life as well,” she tells the WSA.

“I like to embrace that individualism as well and I love it when young athletes and young girls message me on social media for advice because it’s really nice to be that role model.”

Paris, Podiums and Most Importantly ‘enjoying the journey’

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Morgan made her Olympic debut at the age of 19 at the Rio 2016 Games and remarks that she “accidently” got the high jumping place after missing out on her main target of a place in the heptathlon event.

From there she became a solo event specialist and after claiming a silver medal for England at the 2018 Commonwealth Games was backed as a medal contender for Tokyo 2020, before sustaining an injury in the qualifying round and being unable to compete in the final.

“That medal (at Gold Coast 2018) is still my only major medal and it was really exciting at the time, but it made me think that my main goal was to get on the podium and win another medal at each Championships I’ve been at since then,” reveals the two-time Olympian.

“Now I try to strip it back and think ‘where am I at, what is realistic?

“I’ve learned that when you set unrealistic goals sometimes it’s even harder to come back (after not achieving them), so I’ve learned from my experiences.

“I’ve had two very different Olympic experiences, Paris will be my third time and I feel a lot more prepared this time around.

“Yes I’d love to win a medal, but I’m focusing on smaller goals that I can achieve leading up to that and not putting all my focus on that podium, because as I say, without the enjoyment you can’t have the success.”

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