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Kerr finds peace in the bathroom to win world indoor high jump title

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Nervous breakdowns sent New Zealand high jumper Hamish Kerr to the toilet to regain his composure at the world indoor athletics championships before winning gold on Sunday.

After winning with a clearance of 2.31 metres, Kerr added two centimeters to his personal best by clearing a world record of 2.36m in Glasgow, a huge boost ahead of the Paris Olympics.

Kerr’s victory made him the third New Zealander to win a world indoor title after shot putters Valerie Adams and Tom Walsh.

A bronze medalist at the 2022 event in Belgrade and reigning Commonwealth Games champion, Kerr has extensive experience of major events, but he said nerves got to him in Glasgow.

“I wasn’t calm or relaxed,” he told New Zealand media.

“I knew I had to focus on myself today and in a sport where there are so many other things going on, the only thing I can control is my emotions and my technical lineups.

“As the competition progressed, it became more and more difficult to concentrate on that as the result became more and more important… So I went to the toilet several times to sit down there and do a little breath work and bring myself back to the present.”

Kerr, who finished ahead of American Shelby McEwen and South Korean bronze medalist Woo Sang-hyeok, failed to clear 2.34m and missed her first attempt at 2.36m after raising the bar, but floated during his second effort.

“It’s just a good sign of things to come, the work we’ve done in New Zealand and the approach we’ve taken this season is really working,” he said.

“But at the same time I know that going into the Olympics there are some big boys training pretty well and doing good things behind closed doors. So it’s going to be a good challenge and something that I can’t wait to take it up.”

Geordie Beamish then capped New Zealand’s most successful world indoor competition by winning a surprise gold medal in the men’s 1,500m thanks to a grand final ride.

With silver medals for shot putter Walsh and pole vaulter Eliza McCartney, New Zealand won a record four medals in Glasgow, one better than their tally at the 2016 event in Portland , Oregon.

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