Finishing seventh in the 2012 London Olympics was a blow for pole vaulter Konstadinos Filippidis. But jump forward two short summers and he is one of the favourites at this week's European Championships after winning the world indoor crown in March. And he still gets his homework in on time.
Though some might let success go to their head, might succumb to a newfound feeling of superiority, this couldn’t be further from the truth for Filippides. He has hit on a formula that brought him world indoor success in Sopot, and doesn’t want to change a thing.
“I just wanted to continue my life as it is,” he tells SPIKES. “I realised that like this I became world champion, so I have to continue and not change anything.”
'Like this' is a robust regime of training and study: the 27-year-old Greek is working towards a master’s degree in service management at the Athens University of Economics and Business.
Competitions and training have to be sandwiched between attending and preparing for classes – but it would appear the strict regime only adds to his drive.
“It isn’t easy,” he admits. “I normally get up very early and go training. When I finish training, I go directly to university and stay for most of the day. Once I finish there I often have some treatment, massages or recovery. Then to round off the day I have homework and studying to do.”
This attitude is adopted after the disappointment of missing out on the medals at the 2012 London Olympics. He had gone into the Games in good form: the previous year he had secured two podiums in the Diamond League and put in a strong performance at the Daegu 2011 World Championships, where he set a Greek national record.
Filippidis has plenty of practice raising his hand, from all the classes he has to attend.
Despite coming up short, the 27-year-old’s passion for the pole vault and his desire to compete redouble the efforts he invests in the sport he loves.
“You finish a competition and already want to compete again tomorrow,” he says. “It’s not only very exciting for us, but also for the spectators. It’s a great feeling that you always want to repeat time and time again.
He heads into Saturday’s final round at the Zurich 2014 European Championships as the reigning world indoor champion. Yet the confidence he has taken from being the best pole vaulter in the world doesn’t mean Filippidis will be taking anything for granted.
“Of course after a good performance and a big success you feel confident that you can win,” he says. “But pole vault is a little bit different from all the other events. You never know what is going to happen. You can�t forecast anything.
“With the outdoor season, you haven’t got everything constant. I can only think about myself, and what I can do to perform well.
“I can’t count on someone maybe not being in top shape, or somebody being injured, I have to think about what I am doing and what I am going to produce.”
Filippidis also want to use the competitions between now and Rio in 2016 as a way of conditioning himself for the biggest prize of all.
“The major target is the Olympic Games two years from now. But in the meantime there’s the Europeans, and next year’s world championships. For these major events I want to be in very good shape.
“Then of course in my mind I have the Olympic Games in Rio: I want to be in the best shape possible there.”