Athletics

Britain's Morgan Lake on using her platform to spread body positivity

Rio 2016 high jump finalist talks about speaking out and activism, and a potential return to heptathlon

By ZK Goh ·

British athlete Morgan Lake is no stranger to speaking out.

The 23-year-old has already made her mark, using her voice to raise awareness of issues close to her heart, such as women's body positivity as well as social and racial justice.

Speaking to the Olympic Channel before the European Indoor Championships, Lake says her ability as an athlete to reach a wide range of people is something she does not take for granted, and is happy to be able to share her message.

"I think it's really important to use my platform," says Lake who is aiming to shine at the postponed Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

"It shouldn't just completely be about looks"

The heptathlete-turned-high jumper – an Olympic finalist at Rio 2016 in the latter event – appeared on the cover of British Cosmopolitan magazine in February, as part of a campaign promoting women's body positivity and wellness.

She wants young girls to know that they should not worry about their looks or body while making their way through sport.

"I just kind of like think about the younger athletes coming through and who they aspire to and how it shouldn't just completely be about looks," she explains passionately.

"Every athlete is so different; every person so different.

"Even if everyone ate the exact same food and trained the exact same way, not everyone would look the same like all the rhetoric.

"So I really try and push that and just think like, what is the best for you and what can you do to make yourself feel best?"

Lake admits she herself had to learn that lesson through experience.

"It's definitely taken me a while, especially going from heptathlete to high jumper.

"I was like, 'I don't really look like the other high jumpers', and I realised actually I got to – I won – the world juniors and got to the Olympics as a heptathlete. So it doesn't matter.

"You don't have to look just like someone to be as good as them."

"Show people what is going on"

Lake, who has also been vocal on social media about drawing attention to injustices in the world, says she hopes her activism makes a change.

"Athletes are human as well and don't just eat, sleep, breathe the sport they do," she explains.

"They still keep an eye on like politics and things that are going on in the world.

"I think it's really important for the people that follow me.

"Obviously you want to see the fun side of the track; you want to see the lifestyle.

"But you also want to show people what is going on in the world. I've got a platform to make them aware of what's happening."

Return to heptathlon?

Lake reached the qualifying mark for Tokyo 2020 last month by clearing 1.96 metres at the Serbian Open Indoor Meeting in Belgrade.

However, the Commonwealth Games high jump silver medallist and double world junior champion does not currently have a set plan for which event she wants to do after the Games.

"I'm not still not one hundred per cent sure if I'm going to go back to full heptathlon," she admits.

"I'd like to maybe start with pentathlon indoors and it's obviously a bit of a big ask to go straight from high jump to then, the next year, going to seven events.

"I think I'd kind of build it back up and just see where I'm at. A lot of my focus will still be on the high jump, not to kind of label myself as a heptathlete like Kat (Katarina Johnson-Thompson).

"There's a lot of great heptathletes coming up in the country again. So I'm definitely by no means just thinking I'll go straight to the top."