Falling in love with athletics at the age of 10 and competing nationally and internationally throughout school and university, poor health has dampened Keeley O'Hagan's high jump career over the last few years.

Now back to full health, Keeley is having another shot at the World University Games in July after placing eighth back in 2015.

Competing at the games while completing a Bachelor of Arts in criminology and anthropology at Victoria University, this time around Keeley is onto her second degree, studying nutrition at Ara Institute of Canterbury after moving down to Christchurch in February for training.

"I've wanted to pursue athletics ever since I was young, and made the decision last year to focus on athletics again after getting back to full health."

Keeley O'Hagan in competition.
Keeley O'Hagan in competition.

Being a member of the Paraparaumu Track and Field Club since she was a junior and attending Ōtaki College, Keeley said it was a tough decision deciding to move down south to train.

"I needed a different environment so I made the decision to move to Christchurch."

Struggling with chronic fatigue since her late teens, Keeley said, "I feel like I'm a very resilient athlete now, to just keep coming back and not quit.

"It's definitely what I want to do, it's my passion.

"Now I'm back to full health I really just want to give it everything I've got."

Keeley is training with Athletics New Zealand high performance coach Terry Lomax.

"It was a hard decision because my heart is back in Wellington and on the coast where all my family and support are. But it has definitely been the right decision.

"I'm enjoying the training environment down here and we're seeing really good results leading into this trip."


The trip includes the World University Games in July and the Oceania Athletics Championships in Townsville, Australia, at the end of this month.

Injured for most of the summer athletics season, Keeley was only able to compete in three competitions but was able to reach the qualifying height in two of those competitions, qualifying her for the World University Games and Oceanias.

Previously not viewed as an important competition, the Oceanias will be hotly contested this year with points from the competition going towards World Championships and Olympics qualification.

"As of this year it has become a huge athletics competition.

"There is a big team going this year and it will be a huge competition from now onwards.

"All the world's top athletes from the Oceania region will be wanting to go, it will be an amazing competition and great experience."

With a current personal best of 185cm, Keeley's goal is to break the New Zealand high jump record of 192cm within the next few years.

"I've still got a way to go but I'm definitely capable of doing it when I'm strong and healthy.

"At the moment we're reassessing goals every few months.

"In the long-term the Olympics would be amazing but we're just taking it step by step and being smart about our approach at the moment."