Last summer, Mirela Demireva won European and Olympic high jump silver medals in the space of just over a month. The Bulgarian shares her best tips for competition, training and private life.

Championship tip

I try to enjoy every competition as if it was my last one. This is in my character. I try to enjoy the competition and always perform the best I can. I love high jumping, it is my art and I want to give it everything. 

Tactical tip

I try not to set any rules or boundaries when it comes to tactics because I have to perform no matter what. All I do is approach every competition in a very good mood and just try to jump over the bar. I try to simplify everything as much as possible.

Psychological tip

Between 2009 and 2012 I had many injury problems and I was told by a doctor I would never come back and that jumping would be impossible. So, since then, I’ve learned to be thankful for every competition.

Taking this attitude makes every competition so much easier for me. I remind myself that I love what I do and that it is my decision I do what I do. 

Technical tip

Since 2014 when I changed my coach and moved to train in the Netherlands, I have had to completely change my technique.

Technically many elements were the opposite from before. I am still trying to find my own style, but I think the biggest thing I find is to learn things less by words but more by ‘a feeling’.

Coaching tip

My coach [Rini van Leeuwen] now has a very simple tip and says, ‘it happens’. I really don’t like to fail, but what I learned from my coach is ‘it happens’ and I can learn from my mistakes.

Sometimes I am annoyed and stressed and I want to jump better, but my coach always reminds me that ‘it happens’.

Tip for surviving the athletics circuit

For me, I have a general rule that I am very thankful I am able to jump. I love what I do and it is not about surviving the athletics circuit. You go out there to enjoy it. The way I see it is if you decide to be at that meeting or that place, then you should have nothing to complain about.

Mirela Demireva competes at the Rio Olympics (Getty Images)

Top cooking tip

I am a high jumper and we are fanatical about eating and cooking! During the week, I try to have all the different types of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. But if you don’t have time for a meal, nuts and fruit are always a good idea.

Also, starving is forbidden, so if I want to eat chocolate, I just do it! I like dark chocolate, the darker the better. 

Top parental tip 

It is from my father, who first told when I was a kid ‘every dead end has an exit’. What he means by this is, it is all about how you handle things that come to you. Often as I have found in my life, the exit is simply patience.  

Fashion tip

Don’t buy anything if you don’t really need it! This is a question I ask myself when I am tempted to buy something. Of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t buy clothes, I just try to stay sustainable and buy quality over quantity.

When it comes to clothes, I like colours. I like to wear what makes me feel good for the day. I really love yellow and white. 

Driving tip

My driving tip is actually if you can, bike. I discovered this since living in the Netherlands.

I love cycling to training, the supermarket and I even went to a competition by bike once where I live in Zoetermeer in the Netherlands, which was very exciting for me. 

Vacation tip

Be sure that you have the right company because you will create good stories everywhere but not with everyone.

I never make plans when I go somewhere. I would say make sure you have the right company and then go exploring.

Social media tip

I am not really a social media type. I am not very active. I have a Facebook account, but usually a prefer to share my life with family and friends.

Dating tip

I would say never pretend and never create a fake impression because it would be exhausting trying to be something you are not. So, just be true to yourself and respectful to others.