By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator
For every athlete, there’s something about a sport that draws you in, something distinctive that captures your interest.
For high jump athlete Lara Denbow, who did lots of different activities growing up — dance, soccer, figure skating, and more — it’s quite literally getting over an obstacle that thrills her.
“I love high jump because of the unique mental challenges it poses as well. Because many, many sports have mental pieces to it, but it’s especially evident where there’s a physical bar you need to go over that’s always in the corner of your sight. I think that’s one of the things I love about high jump, is that difficulty and that extra challenge.”
Sights On Canada Summer Games
The Canada Summer Games brings athletes together from across the country to compete for a spot on the podium.
“As a rural athlete, I have a gym and don’t have access to a strength coach that would understand my needs. But Neal has been excellent as well as the performance programming,” said Lara. “We incorporate plyometrics and different speed lifts all in order to build specific event skills that will aid well to what I’m trying to accomplish.”
For Lara, she’s specifically trying to build speed strength.
“It doesn’t really matter how heavy of a thing I can put up, how heavy I can squat. But it’s how fast can I move myself up, how fast can I transfer the force from the ground into vertical momentum. So what we work on lots is, we start by building general strength and then building more specific strength. But towards competition, the big focus is speed strength, because it’s all about turning that speed into vertical power.”
Thriving In The Competition Environment
When Lara reflects on what she was originally looking forward to before the Canada Games postponement due to COVID-19, lots came to mind.
“As much as there’s a lot of pressure on large stages, I love large competitions – I do. So I was excited for the opportunity to compete at a large competition again, especially with it being a multi-sport competition, I was excited to watch other sports and celebrate those as well.”
Since the Games moved from 2021 to 2022, she will appreciate that connection with other athletes across the country even more.
“But now, since COVID, I’m especially looking forward to Canada Summer Games to see so many different athletes from different sports come together again, which is something that we’ve been missing for so long,” she said. “And, the location is pretty nice, too!”
Building Her Skills at Oregon State University
Before Games time, Lara has a lot of exciting things on her plate coming this fall.
“With myself being in grade 12, I decided to where I’m going next year. And I signed with a school, a NCAA Division 1 school, Oregon State, to compete in track and field next fall and for the next four years. They’re the Oregon State Beavers and they’re a women’s track and field team.”
“One of the things I’m really looking forward to about the program is they do have a lot of high jumpers. And it’s an all girls team. Which wasn’t something I was necessarily looking for at the start, but something that really drew me is the fact that there’s going to be six girls that are also high jump, and there’s a couple that are at very similar levels to me, so I will have a group that is working toward the exact same goals that I am in sport and we’ll be working for the exact same things and trying to get better.”
Lara said she’ll be building on her skills and performance so she’s ready for what lies ahead coming home next summer, including national competitions like the Canada Summer Games.
“I’m just really looking to be the best I can be in sport,” said Lara.