Editor’s Note: This is the second in a three-part series previewing Dickinson State alumni who are competing for the Bahamas at the Summer Olympics in London.
One centimeter. It’s practically nothing.
But, one centimeter is all that kept Trevor Barry from qualifying for the Olympics four years ago.
One centimeter is also what has made Barry’s trip to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London so sweet.
“It’s kind of a redemption,” he said with a smile.
High jump is an athletic discipline that puts great importance on small increments and adjustments.
Little improvements, over a span of years, have helped the Dickinson State alumnus become one of the world’s best high jumpers.
He has reached 7 feet, 7 inches (2.31 meters) this season and hit 7-7¼ (2.32 meters) last September to win a bronze medal at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. Last year’s performance has Barry thinking big.
“I feel like I’m in good position to be a contender for a medal,” Barry said.
He has the right to feel good about his chances when the high jump qualifying begins Aug. 5. After all, he has come a long way in four years — even if all he has done is increase his personal-best jump by a seemingly meager 3 inches.
Still, it’s an amount DSU head track and field coach Pete Stanton said matters a great deal in the high jump.
“It’s a cliché: sports come down to inches,” Stanton said. “But it’s even more so in high jump. It comes down to centimeters.”
Barry, who helped DSU win NAIA national championships in 2004, 2005 and 2006, has been on the rise since barely missing the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
He took a silver medal behind countryman Donald Thomas with a height of 7-6 (2.29 meters) at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Dehli. In 2011, less than two months before his bronze at the World Championships, Barry won gold at the Central American and Caribbean Championships by leaping 7-5¾ (2.28 meters). This year, the Mizuno-sponsored athlete ranks fourth in the Diamond League, a global competition for many of the top athletes in select disciplines.
“My story is not a Cinderella one,” Barry said. “It’s persistence and dedication.”
Getting to this point has been a steady climb, a journey Barry has done mostly on his own.
Living in Fargo, Barry generally works out alone.
He takes film of his practices and sends them to two coaches, world-renowned Bahamas track and field coach Keith Parker and Troy Kemp, an assistant coach at Northern Arizona who won the gold medal at the 1995 World Championships. Kemp helps Barry with his strength and training regimen while Parker keeps an eye on the technical aspects.
Training without any competition can be viewed as a drawback, but Barry said it works well for him.
“It’s kind of a mental thing,” he said. “Each athlete has their own preference. For me, I don’t have anyone to compete with. I don’t have anyone to set me back either. My limit is my limit.”
Since Barry arrived at DSU in 2003, Stanton said the eight-time NAIA champion — only two of which came in the high jump — has never lacked confidence.
That attitude, the coach believes, may play a major factor in London.
“The big thing Trevor has going for him is his consistency over the last year, and his confidence,” Stanton said. “He’s always been pretty confident, but now I think he knows the level that he’s at and where he’s going.”
If Barry has his way, he’s going to the medal stand after the high jump finals on Aug. 7.
“I have the confidence,” Barry said. “I know what it takes to compete at this level. Right now, anything is possible.”