Athletics: High jump star Hamish Kerr takes leap of faith in build-up to Paris Olympics

Less than 12 months out from the Paris Olympics, high jump star Hamish Kerr has made the bold decision to change coach.

With longtime mentor Terry Lomax winding down and thinking about retirement, the reins have been handed over.

New coach James Sandilands is no stranger to Kerr - the pair competed against each as juniors and have even flatted together.

Hamish Kerr in training at Christchurch.
Hamish Kerr in training at Christchurch. Photo credit: Photosport

After a long European season and a well-deserved break, Kerr is back into training under the watchful eye of his new coach. 

"Yeah, it's a bit of a bold move being this close to the Olympics, being eight months out," he admitted to Newshub.

While Sandilands may now call the shots, long term coach Lomax is never too far away. 

"It's the best of both worlds and I think I'm super happy," said Kerr. "I'm motivated to be coming to training and it just seems like a good change so far."

Kerr and Sandilands are no strangers.

"I've known Jimmy for quite a long time," said Kerr. "He was always a much better athlete than me."

Sandilands agreed: "Yeah, cleaned him up for years, only in recent times has he got one over me."

Now on the same team, their eyes are on an Olympic medal and they're using technology to reach that goal. 

Gone are the days of just running and jumping. With the help of High Performance Sport NZ, it's now about laptops and fancy gadgets.  

"We had Matt out there with his radar gun," said Sandilands. "We're looking at the shape of the curve, the rhythm, his max velocity through the curve and then into takeoff."

Hamish Kerr and analyst Matt Ingram examine data on his technique.
Hamish Kerr and analyst Matt Ingram examine data on his technique. Photo credit: Photosport

This piece of Kiwi ingenuity is used to measure force at takeoff, combines two force plates and a homemade box. 

"I think that's what I'm so lucky with," said Kerr. "Those boys, they're constantly cooking those numbers." 

If it can help find an extra centimetre or two, they could be just what Kerr needs to reach the podium at Paris.