Sarah Cowley has mind on a high jump medal
It's not ideal, trying to meditate in front of 44,000 screaming Scots on a chilly Glasgow morning.
But Sarah Cowley got her mind in the right zone, rid some early jitters and sailed serenely over the bar at a height of 1.85m to qualify for the 12-woman Commonwealth Games high jump final, which starts at 5am on Saturday morning.
Cowley, 30, switched from heptathlon after the 2012 London Olympics, and is also a convert of highly-regarded sports psychologist David Galbraith for the past three years. "He's my mind monk," she said.
Among Galbraith's clients are London Olympic medallists Lisa Carrington and Sarah Walker, and squash No 1 Joelle King. Cowley credited his advice with keeping her calm, to the point of zoning out as Hampden Park heaved.
"We've mastered the art of meditating on the ground and finding a good place to go to. It's intense out there and you have a lot of adrenaline but you need to control it as well," Cowley said.
"He [Galbraith] is a guru and he challenges you; he stretches your mind and stretches your spirit."
With 200m and 400m hurdles heats going on around the two high jump mats, and the crowd roaring for any Scot who lifted a spiked foot, there were a few distractions.
Cowley cleared the elementary heights of 1.71m and 1.76m, then there was a hiccup. Twice she knocked the bar down at 1.81m, which was 10cm short of her personal best.
Another miss and she would tumble out. Then she appeared on the big screen during a lull and the crowd got involved and lifted her. She breezed over her third attempt, then again at 1.85m and raised her arms triumphantly.
"It's just great to be in the final. That's the last tick and now it's just game on and anything can happen," she said.
"It's not really high jump without a little bit of stress for me but we got there. Now it's just rest up and go higher."
Cowley was one of 10 leapers to clear 1.85m in qualifying. She was ranked sixth in the Commonwealth coming in, and the highest personal best of the finalists is 1.96m by Australian Eleanor Patterson, which suggests an even contest.
"I don't really look at the rest of the girls. I don't watch them in competition but there's girls that can jump high and so can I. It's about bringing it on the day," Cowley said.
"It's amazing to be in the stadium. This was my first time here and I wanted to feel it. It feels great and I loved it."
Meanwhile, New Zealanders Angie Smit and Nikki Hamblin qualified 10th and 11th fastest for the 800m semifinals, scheduled for 5.50am Friday (NZT).
Smit, the national champion, led in heat three before struggling in the final 100m to finish fifth in a time of 2:03.28. Luckily she was in a fast heat and qualified with Hamblin as one of the four fastest losers.
Hamblin, who suffered a bump in the straight when England's Marilyn Okoro shifted in sharply, ran 0.04sec slower than Smit to safely progress, just over 12 hours since her 1500m fifth placing.