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Charles Austin: Soaring to New Heights

Written by: Tomas Morgan

Charles Austin, a name etched in Olympic high jump history, has left a mark on the world of sports. With an astounding high jump record of 7 feet and 10 inches, he has proven that the sky is not the limit. In the realm of American High jump, he reigns supreme, still holding the record at the same staggering height. But Charles Austin is not just a record holder; he is also an innovator, a tenacious athlete, and an inspiration to many.

Born with a natural talent for High jump, Charles Austin's journey into the sport was not as straightforward as one might expect. Charles shared his early experiences, reminiscing his journey from a high school kid to a world-renowned high jumper.

"It's pretty cool, man," Charles remarked when asked what it's like to jump higher than his own height. Interestingly, High Jump wasn't initially his ambition. In his senior year of high school, he joined the track and field team at the urging of his friends. However, the coach wasn't initially convinced and told him he couldn't be on the team. Charles's friends then stepped in, vouching for his potential by stating he could jump 6 feet. The coach's response changed the course of Charles's life: "If he can jump 6 feet, then he can be on the team." Charles went on to jump 6 feet in jeans and basketball shoes, setting the foundation for his remarkable career.

It was during his NCAA outdoor championship the following year that Charles realized he could compete at the highest level. Remarkably, at that point, he wasn't even giving it his all. The following year, Charles clinched victory and set a personal best of 7 feet 8 inches and a quarter.

Post-college, in his very first year, Charles set the current American record at a towering 7 feet 10 inches and won his first outdoor world championship, and his trajectory only ascended from there.

Throughout his journey, Charles Austin held firm to his belief that it was about proving oneself right rather than proving others wrong. He understood that success is not only about conquering the competition but also about personal growth and perseverance.

Apart from High Jump, Charles Austin dabbled in basketball. Despite his small stature of 5'10" and 135-140 pounds, he wanted to pursue basketball after high school. He even received scholarship offers for high jumping, ultimately choosing West Texas over a full basketball scholarship at McNeese State University, which came as a surprise to him.

His decision wasn't solely motivated by national pride or a desire to represent his country. It was about personal fulfillment and providing for his family. High jump wasn't the highest-paying sport, and Charles Austin had to navigate through financial challenges. He only had sponsorship deals during 1992-1994, one from Mizuno and another from Mazda, which he managed prudently.

One of the highlights of Charles Austin's career was the creation of the "total body board." The inspiration for this innovation stemmed from his experience with resistance band training in 1993. His journey was marred by adversity when he tore his patellar tendon in 1990, forcing him to undergo surgery. Several doctors doubted his ability to jump again. However, his resilient spirit and dedicated training with resistant bands helped him make an astonishing comeback. By 1995, he was back fully healthy jumping like he never had before.

This tenacity and unwavering commitment to his craft were a testament to his character. Charles Austin's career encompassed 234 competitions over a 15-year period, with a relentless focus on championship meets.

When asked about his pre-jump routine, Charles Austin's response was as unconventional as his journey. He didn't follow a strict routine or have a coach. He simply visualized his approach and executed it with precision.

Charles Austin's story is one of resilience, innovation, and determination. His journey from a high school athlete to a world record holder and inventor is a testament to the incredible heights one can reach with the right mindset and unwavering dedication. Charles Austin's legacy continues to inspire aspiring athletes and innovators worldwide, proving that sometimes the greatest feats are achieved by those who defy convention and forge their own path to greatness.

To hear more of Charles' story, check out So High Sports, the Total Body Board, and listen to episode #199 on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or YouTube.

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