Nikoleta Kiriakopoulou- Good Vibes, Happen at Heights
I wanna fly…
I gave sprints and horizontal jumps a go prior to pole vaulting but I fell in love with pole vaulting. The feeling of flying in the air during the jump is unbeatable! Pole vaulting for me is not a job. I do it because I love it and I have specific expectations.
Sports in Greece is second nature since ancient times. “A healthy mind in a healthy body” is an ancient Greek saying, meaning that besides a sharp mind, you have to also take care of your body with exercising on a regular basis. My family was supportive in every step of my learning and career. Before track and field, I was a gymnast since the age of 7.
Pole vaulting is an exciting event and experience. While in the air I have a sense of freedom, I feel I’m flying! I train many hours a day and I enjoy every moment.
Competing to pregnancy and back again
After winning the bronze medal at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, entering the 2016 Olympic year my goal was nothing less than an Olympic medal. However, I was unlucky to get injured 1,5 months before Rio. The injury was serious and I decided upon my return from Rio with my husband that it was the right moment to take a break from the sport and get pregnant, meanwhile to give the necessary time to overcome the injury too. Everything was calculated in order to be back jumping one year later. I trained with my husband during my pregnancy in order to stay in form as much possible. Three months after the birth of my baby girl in May 2017, I was ready to start my preparation for the upcoming indoor season of 2018, where I ended in the 11th place.
To be pregnant… every moment… every feeling… was a blessing!!! I had an easy pregnancy without difficulties. Changes in my body were tolerated well, probably due to my high physical condition. I believe exercising for women before becoming pregnant but also during their pregnancy is beneficial. Getting back in shape was also not a problem. With all of that being considered I also only breastfed for 3 months. I took care of my diet and I started to exercise carefully and progressively 3 weeks after my baby was born. I was back in full shape 3 months later.
It’s true that my daughter motives me very much. I like the idea to let her know later that her presence in my life gave me wings every time I entered a competition.
The silver lining
The biggest struggle was during the winter of 2015 at the European Indoor Championships in Prague. I had the best performance in Europe and 2nd in the world but failed to win a medal. I was extremely disappointed and ready to quit athletics. Lucky for me my husband was with me at the competition and supported me tremendously in order to overcome my sense of failure. I accepted and realized in my mind that failure is part of the process of success in the making. Indeed 5 months later I won a bronze medal at the World Championships in Beijing.
The why and what
I am dedicated when I have a task to do. Do be an athlete and to reach a high level brings with it also responsibilities. There are responsibilities to yourself and to people who are counting on you and your further evaluation. I’m a professional with all means. My first target is to qualify for any final, then everything can happen… Success for me is to reach your full potential.