Greek national pole vault record holder Ekaterini Stefanidi tells us why she’s scared of her own ability.

1. I’m scared of heights

“It might sound surprising for a pole vaulter, but I’m afraid of heights. Even if I’m 2ft off the ground, I’m freaking out.

“I was on the ladder the other day helping my husband screw something into the side of the house. I couldn’t reach from the second step and there was no way I would go up to the third step. If I am up high I get nauseous and dizzy and I’m afraid I will fall.

“It is strange because I never feel afraid of heights when I pole vault. I think I feel a lot more in control. I know it sounds crazy.”

2. I started young

“Many people might not realise that I started the sport young and I still hold a world record vault for a 13-year-old [3.95m] and I‘m joint world record holder as a 14-year-old [4.15m].

“I think looking back on what I achieved back then, it seems to matter so little now. It may have been great at the time, but it counts for nothing now. However, what those records did give me, is a great respect for the sport – and also a respect for the effort needed to climb the Olympic podium.

“Knowing even back then I had the talent to be a pole vaulter helped me mentally and psychologically.”

3. I’m absent-minded

“I’ve always had a very good memory. At school I would always read something and often remember it the first time. But I often forget where I’ve parked my car or left my keys. Maybe I’m just distracted or I have so much else going on in my head.

“A few months back I remember after a trip to the grocery store and taking the bags out of the car into the house I threw the keys into the bag with the tomatoes and onions which went straight into the fridge. I couldn’t remember where I put my keys for a couple of days and I thought 'how is this possible?!' It was only when my husband asked if I had looked in the fridge that I found them!

“I’ve lost of lost hundreds of water bottles while I was at college. I’ve left so many pieces of clothing at meets. I’m quite absent minded.”

Stefanidi is also a cognitive psychology graduate. Click these words to read her mental break down of the pole vault.