MURRELL COLUMN: McPherson reveals catharsis in video

Published 6:52 pm Saturday, July 22, 2017

In Monaco, visitors can kick back and relax near the deep blue or party hard on the French Riviera, take in the panorama of the land atop the Rock of Monaco feel the need for speed — without speeding — on the streets of Monte Carlo.

Monaco is where Inika McPherson hung out this past week, another stop around the globe in the International Association of Athletics Federations. She jumped the third best height there, 1.85 meters (or better than 6 feet, ¾ inch), but was officially eighth, still enough to beat defending Olympic champion Ruth Beitia of Spain. Another American, Vashti Cunningham, came in third.

The names McPherson, Cunningham and Beitia were trending last summer. A sport that became the passion of a young girl from Port Arthur finally led her to the world’s biggest stage, and the world saw her walk in front of the American contingent along with one of the country’s greatest athletes in Michael Phelps.

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While it’s easy to say McPherson was taking a business trip near the Ligurian Sea, she was also living life as always.

Always didn’t happen earlier in her life, though.

Well before Rio, McPherson, who’ll turn 31 in September, had her own hurdles to face in Port Arthur and Berkeley, California.

A free video released earlier this week on documents her rise from a 9-year-old who logged online through dial-up networking — remember that? — to learn the finer details of a high jump to freshman state champion during the final year of Lincoln High School to All-American at California … and then the downfall.

McPherson talks of a life that seemed over during Episode 1 of “Inika McPherson: It’s Not Over”. She reveals the point when, following surgery on an injured ankle going into her senior year at Cal, an already-decorated career was taken away, as was a life she was living.

Or so it seemed. Some of her opening lines set the story:

“I didn’t want to be here anymore. I just literally started doing any and everything and literally went into the dark.

“ … I think the bottom of the bottom (was) I was literally writing down, like, ‘Inika McPherson is dead’. I didn’t want to live anymore because high jump was my life. That’s the only way I know I was still here.”

Austin-based Flotrack produced the documentary. A release date for Episode 2 was not announced.

No written biography can be found that entirely tells the depths McPherson found herself in, knowing she could not compete for the Golden Bears anymore. Her story is her catharsis, yet a harrowing reminder of a path she once took.

A year ago next Saturday, the culmination of McPherson’s comeback from the darkness was celebrated at a high school gymnasium. Hundreds from Port Arthur and surrounding communities cheered her on, with a mayor offering to roll out the red carpet for her and throw a champion’s parade in her honor if she won the gold.

McPherson tied for 10th in Rio, but more importantly, she’s living the life she loves the most — one that’s brought her back to heights.

She just wants everyone to know that it’s not over.

I.C. Murrell can be reached at 721-2435 or On Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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