Swedish junior pole vault star Angelica Bengtsson has revealed the secret of her success after setting a new national record of 4.58 in Sollentuna this season before going on to retain her world junior title in Barcelona last week.
Quite simply, she has given up all the little superstitions athletes have before competition and has found that she is much more relaxed.
“I had always followed little routines before competing,” explained Bengtsson.
“Amongst other things, that I should not eat sugar many weeks before a meeting. But Karlskrona (4.50) was a completely spontaneous competition.
“I woke that morning, felt full of beans and said to my coach, shall we compete today? I had not done any special preparation.”
That decision resulted in a season’s best for the then 18 year old, who went on to Sollentuna two weeks later to revise her own Swedish record to 4.58 (she has cleared 4.63 indoors 2011).
“It felt great to realise that I did not need to do anything special before competing.”
On July 3 Bengtsson was chosen to make her Olympic debut, but insists that she is completely relaxed about the prospect: “I don’t feel any special pressure. I know it is going to be very difficult to get to the final.
“But I feel very confident of my jumping at the moment. Reaching the final is the lowest goal I can have, but the highest I can set myself” revealed Bengtsson who turned 19 on July 8th.
“Everyone who is above me in the rankings can easily clear 4.60, so I know it is going to be difficult, but that is what I am aiming for and I know it is within my reach.”
At the European Athletics Championships in Helsinki, she finished only 10th with a disappointing mark of 4.30. But Bengtsson bounced back two weeks later at the world juniors in the Barcelona Olympic stadium.
Jumping with brio she lifted her second world title effortlessly with a jump of 4.50 before unsuccessfully attempting a new Swedish record of 4.60.