INDIANAPOLIS -- Inika McPherson knows how to make an entrance. It’s hard to miss the 2014 USATF Outdoor National Champion in the high jump, even though she stands at just 5’4”. Whether it’s her eye-catching uniforms, a new haircut, or one of the 27 tattoos that covers her from head to toe, Inika commands your attention.
Despite currently being unsponsored, Inika has competed at the highest level and, in several instances, dominated the competition. Having to work harder than others is something she has been doing since childhood.
“I always thought you had to have a sponsor to make it,” she said. “I didn't grow up wealthy or anything so making it on my own was something I was taught at a young age. My mom always said I was a go-getter so I just keep that mentality. I have said that if someone wants to sponsor me, they will. If not, then I will have to struggle but I will not stop doing what I love just because it's a little bit harder. It just motivated me to work even harder.”
Inika is the self-proclaimed “Queen of the High Jump” and is the two-time defending USATF Indoor Champion in the event. She was also the runner-up in 2013 at the USATF Outdoor and the 2012 USATF Indoor Championships. She has a unique style and flair that has helped to shape and impact her career.
“I've always been a risk taker when it came to fashion and just being myself without worrying about how others would react,” she said. “I think that's what separates me from the norm. I feel society puts a lot of emphasis on how someone should be and I just focus on being myself. I tried the other option and I wasn’t happy. So I guess that's it; just being me.”
The 2009 graduate of Cal-Berkeley has come a long way from her Port Arthur, Texas childhood home. She was introduced to the high jump in fourth grade and fell in love over the next two summers. Inika’s mom noticed she was bored one day and offered to take her to a local track club started by a family friend. Even though she excelled at the running events, Inika was persistent in doing the high jump. She didn’t have a coach to teach her much, so she researched it herself.
“I pointed at (the high jump pit) and said that's what I want to do,” Inika said. “No one really knew how to coach it except Coach Gerald, who knew a little bit about it. I went on the internet and read up on it as well, so ever since then I've never veered from the pit.”
At USATF Outdoors in Sacramento this past June, having cleared 1.96m/6-5, she went against her coach’s order to stop and save herself for the Lausanne Diamond League meet and went for 2.00m/6-6.75. Inika cleared it without a problem. And for her, it’s just another step in the journey.
“It’s another goal accomplished, another goal closer to fruition,” she said. “It was a long time coming, full of hard work, dedication, blood, sweat and tears. It hasn't been an easy road, but having jumped my best and getting a world (best) while doing so, words cannot explain the feeling. It is definitely a motivation to continue raising the bar being me and loving what I do even more.”