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Erik Kynard: Unfinished Business


By: Amanda Brooks


Olympic silver medalist and three-time USATF Champion Erik Kynard has already made a name for himself on the world stage. After taking home silver in London at just 21 years old as a college junior, the high jumper has made three U.S. teams in his young but illustrious career.


For an athlete who is just in his second full year as a professional, the Ohio native is rarely satisfied.


“Being an off year indoors (in 2015), I opted not to compete much early on,” Kynard said. “Last year was my first full year as a professional and I was not satisfied with how it ended. This year, my number one priority is to stay healthy and compete at a high level on the international stage.”


For the multi-time NCAA Champion, Kynard focuses more on what’s ahead of him year-to-year, looking forward rather than directing his energy and mindset on past competitions.


“Every year, I try and reset using only the previous year’s accomplishments and failures as intrinsic motivation,” Kynard noted. “I’m confident in my ability and am looking to come and compete at USATF Indoors.


The high jump can be a cruel event as a competitor, with podium spots and medals won and lost by just inches. After Kynard’s tremendous performance at the Summer Olympic Games, he has missed podiums at the IAAF World Championships in Russia and the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Poland by a combined three inches, finishing fifth in Moscow and fourth in Sopot.


“I have unfinished business (at the IAAF World Championships), for sure,” Kynard noted. “I’ve seemingly been coming up short and frankly, it’s not acceptable in my eyes.”


World medals and podium finishes aside, 2014 was an exciting year for the men’s high jump on the global stage. Kynard, compatriot Jesse Williams, and international standouts Mutaz Essa Barshim and Bohdan Bondarenko were constantly knocking on the door of the world record throughout the outdoor season. Kynard chooses to ignore the hype, focusing on each jump and each competition instead of outside pressures to break records.


“My focus is not on a world record or what those guys are doing,” Kynard said. “My job is to compete at the end of the day. I don’t lose to any of them, I eliminate myself. I must acknowledge their presence and compete, but focus on doing what I need to do before I can attempt any WR. Before I think about breaking (Javier) Sotomayor’s mark (2.45m/8-0.50), I must first snatch the American record from Mr. Charles Austin (2.39m/7-10).”


Kynard has many pursuits outside of competition as well. A business major at Kansas State, Kynard has teamed up with two-time Olympic medalist Will Claye to create a lifestyle platform called ELEVATE. While still in its early stages, Kynard and Claye look to ELEVATE as a way to inspire American youth in and out of competition.


“We want to inspire not only by explanatory means but also exemplary,” Kynard stated. “For us, we look to not simply talk the talk, but also walk the walk.”


With his off-season training and mental preparation in place, Kynard seems to be set up for an exceptional 2015 season. Looking to elevate his profile both above the high jump crossbar and outside of competition, Kynard has an undoubtedly exciting year ahead.


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