He won Olympic silver in London, and is one of the current crop of high jumpers redefining the art of the possible. But it hasn’t always been an easy ride for the USA's Erik Kynard. Here are three track and field lessons he just had to learn.

1. Clearing the language barrier

“I remember finishing down in 13th at the 2011 World University Games. I had a Chinese official, who didn’t speak English, helping me put down my approach [to the bar],” says Kynard, 23. 

“Normally, I’d ask a fellow US athlete to help me out, but I was the only US athlete competing. It basically meant I was running in a straight line to the bar rather than my curved approach.

“I’ve learned to dot my ‘i’s and cross my ‘t’s when it comes to laying down my approach.”

2. No rushing

“Not carrying out a proper cool down has hindered me in the past. Sometimes doing the smaller things like stretching and warming up, and being more diligent, can make a big difference.

“Sometimes I’d rush to finish a workout to go to class. The lactic acid build-up would mean I wouldn’t feel very well at all afterwards.”

3. Talent < Application

“The biggest thing with athletics is: lots of people believe their talent will take them where they want to go. Yet talent alone will only take you so far. 

“It is important to be a student of your sport and master of your craft. Whether that is about the art of going over the bar, getting ankles taped, or taking ice baths. An athlete must be proactive to enjoy future success.”

That attitude is certainly paying off for Kynard, who finished the indoor season ranked =5th this year, and is currently =4th outdoor. 

If you missed it, here's the Doha Diamond League high jump thriller, where Kynard came second behind Ivan Ukhov to equal his lifetime best of 2.37m: