"Who is next?" as Canadian high jump enter a time of transition
From Debbie Brill and Milt Ottey to Alyx Treasure and Derek Drouin, Canadian high jump has quietly been a consistent presence in track and field at the world stage. They may not always be in the spotlight, but it’s hard to ignore the number of quality high jumpers that are continually being produced out of Canada.
“High jump has always been a really strong event in Canada, I think the present is no exception,” Canadian men’s high jump record holder Derek Drouin says about the current and future state of Canadian high jump. “We got a medalist at Commonwealth, a new-ish guy and some other guys that are starting to flirt with the 2.20m mark.”
With Drouin and fellow Team Canada high jumper Michael Mason representing maple leaf at the world stage for more than a decade, the competition to become the next world-class Canadian high jumper has already begun.
Jumpers like Django Lovett from Surrey, British Columbia (who already earned bronze medal at the 2018 World Championships, more on him later), Sean Cate (personal best of 2.20m) from Georgetown, Ont., Paul Galas (2.17m) from Toronto, Ont., Alhaji Mansaray (2.20m) from Freetowne, Sierra Leone, are only some of the athletes in the next tier to wear the red and white after Drouin and Mason.
“Django kind of represented the bridge between us (the upcoming jumpers) and them (Drouin and Mason), but then he decided to jump 2.30 at Commonwealths and really said ‘I’m one of them now.’ The rest of us are still kind of sitting around 2.20” says Sean Cate, five-time U Sports high jump medalist. “I’m at 2.20, Alhaji is currently injured but he’s jump 2.20, Paul Galas in the high teens as well so there’s a cluster sitting right at 20 and a massive gap between 20 and 30 now and it’s really a race to see who gets there first.”
The oldest of the group mentioned, Django Lovett at 25 years-old, has a few more years of experience jumping on the larger stages. As Cate mentioned, Lovett broke through the 2.20s by jumping 2.30 metres at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, something that hasn’t been done by anyone other than Mason and Drouin in the last 10 years.
Taking a break since the Commonwealth Games, Lovett has proven he can jump with the next tier up and if he can consistently do that, he could be the heir to Canada’s high jump standards.
With Drouin taking the year off (before he prepares to defend his high jump title at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games) and Mason still continuing to jump consistently this season, now is the time for the upcoming group of jumpers to show the track and field world what they have to offer. Whoever ends up joining the him and Mason, Drouin says he’ll be ready for the challenge, and as he watches on from the sidelines, Drouin admits that he likes what he sees for the future of Canadian men’s high jump.
“Mike and I are probably in our stages of transitioning out of the sport within the next quadrennial or so, so it looks like the event is in good hands for the next few cycles.”