Photo: DTU

High jumper Rikke wants to compete at Olympics after graduation

Monday 19 Aug 19

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Rikke Andersen is living proof that with the right amount of willpower, a person can both compete at the highest level and complete their studies within the prescribed time.

June was drawing to a close and Rikke Andersen had just sat her final examination, thus completing the second year of her BSc in Physics and Nanotechnology at DTU. This, however, did not herald the start of her summer holidays—on the contrary, it signalled the start of her athletics season, as in July and August she was set to compete in 13 high jump competitions at top level.

In June, Rikke qualified for the European Athletics U23 Championships. The minimum qualification requirement here was a height of 178 cm. Only two or three women in Denmark can clear this height and they are part of what can best be described as a Danish national athletics team.

Rikke began high jumping when she was 11 and since the eighth and ninth grade, sport has played a major role in her life. So much so that she decided to move to Copenhagen and attend high school there in order to better follow training at the athletics club Sparta, where one of Denmark’s three leading track and field coaches works. Rikke continues to train here.

“My goal is to be able to clear 193 cm—the entry requirement for the Olympic Games. I expect to be able to achieve this in the next couple of years, but probably only after I’ve completed my studies. Unlike many other sports, most high jumpers peak in their 30s,” says Rikke.

Trains six days a week
Rikke trains between two and four hours, six days a week all year round in order to achieve the results that make her one of the country’s top high jumpers. In summer, training takes place outdoors. Here the focus is on technique. In winter, the focus is primarily on core and strength training.

Rikke has applied the same scientific approach to her sport as she has to her studies—all of her jumps are video-taped so she can analyse what areas to improve. She is also studying literature and biomechanics research, which can provide answers as to the ideal angle the body should achieve in order to be able to jump as high as possible.

Rikke Andersen - Højdespringer og Studerende på DTU under træningen på Østerbro Stadion

Mentally demanding
The high jump, however, requires not only the right physique and technique—it is also extremely demanding mentally.

“Every jump is like sitting an exam and demands your best performance here and now,” says Rikke.

For this reason, she prefers her oral exams, as they offer ample opportunity to draw on her experience from the sporting world. At the same time, Rikke’s studies have also benefited from the tough fighting spirit the sport has given her—she is dyslexic and has to spend extra time on reading and writing, but has nonetheless completed her studies within the prescribed time.

“However, I can’t attend the summer courses offered at DTU. During this period, I have to concentrate 100 per cent on high jumping,” says Rikke.

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