Robbie Grabarz understands only now just how draining an experience last summer had been.
Having spent 2012 confirming the potential everyone in British athletics knew he possessed, Robbie Grabarz has passed most of this year proving an equally obvious theory – that it’s inordinately difficult to jump high when you’re tired.
And boy was the Birmingham-based athlete tired. Indeed, now that he has woken from his hibernation, the 25-year-old understands only now just how draining an experience last summer had been.
Not that he’d change it for the world, not that he’d hand back his Olympic bronze medal, nor trade any of his four personal bests, nor the post-London commercial opportunities that allowed him to splash out on a surfer-dude Volkswagen camper van. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t exhausted, riding the crest of that particular wave wasn’t an option.
“It probably wasn’t until about six to eight weeks ago I just woke up really happy again,” the British No.1 said. “I just felt like I needed to sleep all winter and hibernate.
“Last year was quite taxing. I was basically waking up, drinking coffee and getting through it. You have no choice but to do that, you can’t waste an Olympic year, especially in London.
“That opportunity will come once and it was just a matter of letting myself go for that.”
But there just wasn’t enough in the tank for Grabarz to carry the momentum of last summer through an off-season training block and straight into the indoor season in which many expected him to dominate.
After all, Grabarz’s overdue transformation from potential into professional came in the 2012 indoor programme when he instantly reaped the rewards of his decision to fully commit to his sport.
PB followed PB, he rose up the world rankings and earned a European gold medal so that by the time he got to London, he was no longer a surprise package. It might seem strange to say but having come so far, so fast, a podium finish at his first Games was probably about par.
But the pyrotechnics weren’t repeated this spring. His best of 2.31m was still good enough to secure selection for the IAAF World Championships in Moscow next month – but until last Sunday his outdoor campaign had been the very definition of modest.
“It was probably almost a case of posttrauma stress, I didn’t really realise what I was going through. I felt happy and got on with it but I wasn’t myself.
“I was struggling to find my rhythm and had a setback with a knee niggle. So I took a rest and just feel good again. I will probably learn from that because an Olympic cycle is a long time to concentrate. But you learn from your mistakes and I am jumping well again so I am happy.”
He certainly looked to be back in the groove at the Alexander Stadium at the weekend where he was third in the Diamond League meeting behind Erik Kynard and victor Bohdan Bondarenko.
But another clearance at 2.31m – his first qualifying standard for six months – suggested he is on the right track to repeating last summer’s success in Russia. “I am jumping where I should be again and I think improvements from here on in will be fantastic and I will be peaking in Moscow. Sunday rewarded me with how I have been feeling, that performance almost felt like my first competition.”
And it could be that having finally woken from his slumber Grabarz could be on the brink of something spectacular once again. “There is no certainty, I will just go out and perform my best on the day, which might be 2.40m and I might come sixth. You never know. I will be there trying my best and that ought to be good enough for a medal.” And another long snooze.