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Nicola Olyslagers (McDermott)



Place of Birth

North Gosford, Australia



Junior Club

Gosford Little Athletics Club in 2004

Senior Club

Sydney University


Matt Horsnell

Olympic History

Tokyo 2020

Paris 2024

High School

Green Point Christian College

Career Events

Athletics Women's High Jump


Nicola's Story

Nicola Olyslager’s (nee McDermott) recent progress in the high jump has been extraordinary, but for keen observers of athletics, her progression has been a steady improvement over more than a decade.

From an early age, Nicole was tall for her age, but she admits due to a lack of coordination she was not good at sports. Introduced to athletics at school when she was aged seven, she won the majority of the events from shotput to 200m - she had found her niche, and her parents signed her up for Little Athletics. 

Over the last decade, every year she has equalled or improved her high jump best – providing a neat chart of progression.

In 2018 Nicola was a surprise medallist at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, but that was just a launching pad for her trailblazing 2019 season, where she increased her personal best by five centimetres to 1.96m.

The height moved her to equal third Australian all-time, was the equal highest leap by an Australian for 25 years and was a Tokyo Olympic qualifier. Her breakout year included competing at the prestigious Monaco Diamond league where she cleared 1.94m and placed third, defeating many athletes with superior PBs.

In 2020 Nicola negotiated the severe challenges of travelling and competing in Europe while COVID was ramped. On her 7-meet, 6-week tour, she cleared 1.90m in every competition, including setting a PB of 1.98m, just 1cm below the 1.99m Australian record set earlier in the year by Eleanor Patterson. The clearance by Nicola elevated her to equal number two Australian and gained her a number five world ranking for the year.

An inspiration and kindred spirit when Nicola was growing up was Croatian high jumper, Blanka Vlasic. Nicola observed when Blanka attempted the world record and the peace she displayed at such an intense time of her career. Being half-Croatian herself, it convinced Nicola she could jump like that.

Nicola's 2021 campaign was stunning. At the National championships in Sydney she became the first Australian woman in history to clear the elusive 2.00m barrier in the high jump.

She headed to Europe ahead of making her Olympic debut in Tokyo. In Stockholm, her last competition before the Olympics, she again raised the Australian record, with a clearance at 2.01m.

At the Games she was brilliant. In the final, in an enthralling competition, she cleared 2.02m, her third National record in 2001, to claim the silver medal.  The height would have won gold at the Rio (2016) and Sydney (2000) Olympics and the medal was Australia's second medal in women’s Olympic high jump and first since 1964.

Testament to her kind character, Nicola has said she wants to be known for the way she loved people, not how high she can jump.

Post Tokyo Olympics her 2022 campaign started with fifth at the Eugene World Championships. Two weeks later at the Commonwealth Games she led the qualifying round, but withdrew from the final with a torn muscle in her jumping leg.

But a month later she returned to competition to placed third in Brussels and third in the Diamond League final. After the Brussels competition she wrote: “It is a miracle to be back jumping in half the recovery time prescribed! I was only able to run a few days before the competition, so to get a podium finish to qualify for the Diamond League final is overwhelming.”

Nicola’s 2023 campaign was extraordinary. Nine wins from 10 starts and the loss was on countback ahead of winning bronze at the world championships in Budapest. At the Diamond League final she placed second raising the Australian record to 2.03m.

Nicola’s outstanding form continued in 2024, opening her season in Canberra with an Australian allcomers record of 2.03m. After a win in Melbourne, she claimed the World Indoor Championships title in Glasgow, clearing 1.99m. In April she won her fifth Australian title with a 2.01m clearance. At the conclusion of the championships she was selected for Paris, her second Olympic team.

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