JAX Thoirs is doing his level best to explain away the chunky gold ring he is sporting on his left hand. Perhaps the Scottish pole vaulter, named this week in Team Scotland for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April, also has another four gold rings somewhere in his possession and it is something to do with that Christmas song? No, as he patiently explains, it is his NCAA pole vault championship ring, from the 2016 collegiate indoor championships, back last March - when he was doing a sports scholarship and a degree in sociology at the University of Washington in Seattle.

“It’s my national championship ring,” said Thoirs. “Normally people don’t wear them. But I just thought I’ll be a douche and do it! People have taken notice of it. It’s pretty obvious. I think they look at it and think I won the Super Bowl or something.”

This 24-year-old, who calls himself a ‘full time dreamer’ on his Twitter profile, has seen enough in his life not to define success and failure by bringing back lumps of precious metal, but let’s just say he hopes to make a few people sit up and take notice again in the Gold Coast this April. Now back in Scotland working under Colin Sinclair – he is an undergraduate student again too, this time for a psychology qualification at Glasgow Caledonian University, although he regards this mainly as a mechanism for continuing to pole vault for another four years - Thoirs is energised about the prospect of competing for his country in an event where he finished fourth at Glasgow 2014.

The study helps him make sense of the own fluctuations in his own moods too: he freely admits that there were times, particularly around the time of missing out on the Rio Olympics late last year, that he was considering giving up on the sport which he has devoted much of his existence to since giving up gymnastics as a kid. Now he has stripped things back, and just focused on what drew him into the sport in the first place – the adrenaline junkie’s thrill of propelling himself over that bar.

“I do miss Seattle but I feel pretty settled here,” said Thoirs. “I’ve found a new coach this year who I’ve been training with, Colin Sinclair - I actually used to train with his son back in the day. Things are going well, I’m in good shape, I love the training group. Everyone is motivated. I’m happy to be back in Scotland.

“To be honest I wasn’t very motivated around the time of Rio,” he added. “So part of me sees missing it as a blessing in disguise. I think if I’d gone to Rio I might have just quit after it. Not going has given me time to find the love for the sport again and I feel like I’m really enjoying it now. In a way I think it was good for me.

“When you’re doing something for that long, since you were 14 years old, you’re going to have dips in motivation. But I’ve started realising now that I’m only doing this because I like pole vaulting and not for any reason - not to try and make a living out of it and once I started thinking like that again I feel like I’m just enjoying it and I’m not worried about what happens or the consequences anymore. The closer you get to the funding and the sponsorship, thoughts about that start creeping into your head. You start not concentrating on why you started pole vault in the first place. I’ve gone back to the point where anything is a bonus

“I think that’s the best mindset to have. I’m at university which is effectively to get my SAS loans to keep pole vaulting for four more years. It’s really good to have something else in your life to balance things. If all you’ve got is sport you’re just going to stress way too much about it. Having something else to focus on means I’m not too worried about how my pole vaulting goes. It’s going to make my pole vaulting go better.

“What do I like about pole vaulting? It just feels good. I think I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie so it’s about going high up in the air. I get a thrill out of it. For the most part I’ve been getting higher and higher. The higher you go the more of the thrill it is. The thrill keeps building and building. I love trying to lift heavier in the weight room, I love trying to get faster. So every aspect really.”

Just occasionally, Thoirs seeks an even higher octane thrills. “I went sky-diving last year,” he said. “That was pretty fun. It was an hour’s drive from Seatttle, a beautiful day. And sometimes now we go to the Falls of Falloch which is an hour away from Glasgow. It’s like a ten-metre cliff and we jump off that into the water. It’s pretty fun. We’re always trying to do stupid gymnastics type stuff in training to get the heart rate going.

“Is there anything I’ve been talked out of? I’m trying to think. I’m not going to do anything where there’s a really high chance of injury. But show me something and there’s a good chance I’ll want to try it.”

Such a narrow miss in Glasgow four years ago only provides an added incentive. “At the time I wasn’t too bothered,” he said. “I loved the experience. I got a real sort of energy from competing in front of the crowd. That made me forget the fact I’d just come in the worst position I could have come. I wasn’t thinking it at the time but now I think back and wish I could have finished one place higher. I want to get some redemption.”