Her looks catch you off guard when she steps onto the track. The tattoos that embellish her petite frame. The serious swag. The hair, which could be long, close-cut, mohawked and any color of the rainbow. Inika McPherson, high jumper, Olympic gold medalist, 3-time U.S. champion, makes you want to watch her. And when you do, you’re glad you did.
The Port Arthur, Texas star recently left Des Moines, Iowa, where she finished second in the USATF championship high jump event. That was her best finish in the U.S. since winning the 2014 title at 6-6.75 inches (or 2 meters even) her personal record. Check her Instagram feed, and McPherson is already training to outdo herself.
Crush caught up with the 5’4″ dynamo between training, and got her perspective on achieving success, dancing to the beat of her own drum, her daily medicine to get through and why you might catch her all up on the big screen one day.
Three best words to describe yourself:
Infinite, positive, courageous
Do you have a pre-jump ritual?
Yes, well each day I pretty much have a morning routine that’s part of my ritual. Pray, and do a warrior warm up I got from the book Mind Body Mastery by Dan Millman. Then I take a power shower that’s a warm ending with a cold water contrast. I meditate, then get ready to rock. Next I do my usual dynamic warm up, then get out there with a clear, refreshed mind and rock it!
How many tattoos do you have, and which is your (current) favorite?
I just recently got an Ankh tattoo on my face near my ear. It’s my current favorite. And of course, I love my Olympic tattoo on my left thigh done by @bad_side_ink. I have well over 30. My ex tried to count once. We were trying to figure out if we should do the individual count or just the whole piece. I said they individually hurt so count them all! LOL!
Name one thing that brings you absolute joy:
High jumping, acting, and finances (That’s three, Inika!)
This one is hard. It’s a mix between Wonder Woman and Batman.
Give yourself a superhero name and power:
My name would be Nostalgia, and my super power would be bringing light where there is darkness, freeing people from their worry, letting them know there’s abundance here for us all.
On average, how long do you train?
2-4 hours depending on the days and the workout
Favorite training exercise/drill:
The “Push Pull Pop.” It sets the foundation for the execution in the high jump. I also like depth jumps.
What you love about your life:
Being able to travel the world and have an impact on others, while doing what I love the most.
How you chill:
I write poetry, go out on the town, explore new restaurants. I love finding new things to do. I love the outdoors, the sky, trees and just being in nature. Spoken word, reading and I love acting. It is another thing that brings me joy.
Can you dance?
Very well. If I hit a dance floor, it’s very rare that I leave it.
What song is in heavy rotation right now?
Jay Z and Beyoncé (“Everything is Love” album). BOSS! Great message. I love all genres of music as long as it moves my spirit.
Who/what inspires your sense of style?
I’ve traveled to Europe since I was 16. I’ve been around the world. I love Cali, the East coast and I’m from the South so my style is a mixture of it all.
Go-to hair products:
Pro Style Gel and Shea butter! My hair loves that stuff. Head and Shoulders is my shampoo.
If you weren’t a track and field star, what would have been your plan B career?
Acting or a studio artist. I also love to make music through my poetry.
OK, you mentioned acting again. Is that something you want to pursue?
Yes, I love it! I met Spike Lee once. He was interested in putting me in a film, but I was traveling and didn’t have time to go back. He actually called me from his cell and everything! Great experience. I also started working on a Sundance film festival short. So yes, I would!
Best vacation of your life so far:
Breckinridge, Colorado. I didn’t have a track meet so I chilled, ate, played basketball with friends, got lost in the woods! It was just an all-around great experience. I love that place we stayed at the Beaver Ranch Resorts.
Android or iPhone?
iPhone! Steve Jobs. Enough said.
One healthy thing you do every day without fail:
I pray every day without fail. I have so much to be thankful for. The simple fact that we are breathing is a wonderful blessing. To be able to create the life in which we live is nothing short of amazing.
Sneakers or Tennis Shoes:
I love wearing Fitkicks or Skeletons, but tennis shoes is the vernacular I use. LOL!
Best advice on being yourself:
Be you and you will show true beauty to the world.
Best advice for following your dreams:
Have faith in God and yourself and know that if know one is physically there for you spiritually, you’re set and that’s all you need.
Finish the sentence: “When I retire from track and field, I want to be remembered as…
someone who lived life out loud.”
Stacy Julien is editor in-chief of Crush Magazine.