Athlete interview at the World Athletics Championships (© Mercedes Oliver)
A selection of quotes ahead of the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23.
Quotes from 18 August can be found here.
Jeswin Aldrin | Filip Mihaljevic | Zhu Yaming | Shericka Jackson | Rasheed Broadbell | Hansle Parchment | Karsten Warholm | Lamont Marcell Jacobs | Abdul Hakim Sani Brown | Kristiina Maki | Tom Walsh | Pia Skrzyszowska | Mutaz Essa Barshim | Julien Alfred | Jasmine Camacho-Quinn | Anderson Peters | Yasmani Copello
On being the surprise world leader in 2023 with 8.42m:
“I had a big jump last season that was wind-aided – 8.37m. But it wasn’t counted. And I had 8.26m legally, so I have been improving.
“The main focus for me this year was not to get injured. At the World Championships last year I finished 20th in my first international competition for India and my first Worlds. I didn’t have enough experience.
“This season I gained a lot from last year and worked a lot on my mistakes. I wasn’t thinking about a bigger leap but on making little improvements in training. Then we suddenly got a big jump in competition and we’re really happy.
“Now we are focused on doing a bigger jump in the championships.”
On what has made the difference this season:
“Now I have more experience after last year and I’m also in better condition. Last year I had trouble with an injury and didn’t do well in my national championships, but this season I’ve had no problems.
“So, physically I am fitter and I am more clear in my mind.”
On how he met his coach, Yoandri Betanzos (CUB):
“We have an institute in India, the Inspire Institute of Sport. They recruited him from Cuba and so we got to know each other after that.
“At first it was difficult because he didn’t know English that well. But we managed and now it is easier.”
On his expectations for the championships:
“To make the finals and to enjoy it. I know it sounds like a cliche, but I’ve thrown well this year and I’ll be happy if I can throw my season’s best. I believe I can. A season’s best will get me a good spot.
“But I really want to enjoy it because all season you are chasing something – there’s pressure to win points in the Diamond League, or to reach some standards – there’s always something. So I think this is the time to enjoy.”
On whether he can throw a national record in Budapest:
“I think I can. I’m ready for a good result. You never know. Once the adrenaline kicks in a miracle can happen – no, not a miracle, you work hard for it – but something you don’t expect.
“I’m ready to throw far but you have to take it step by step. I have been a victim of the prelims [qualification rounds] multiple times and there are always some casualties in the morning prelims.
“With the event at 10am you have to wake up at six and leave your bed unwillingly. It’s tough to perform. But I have been working on it and I’m ready – a national record is possible, 22 metres is possible, a medal is possible, everything is possible.
“I just have to focus on myself and not look over my shoulder.”
On contesting the final on the same days as the qualifications:
“I think it’s the best way to do the shot put because you train only for one day. My lifting sessions are made for it. It is tough on your body and emotionally but it’s better to do it this way – get in, get ready, do your job and go home.”
On the challenges he has faced preparing for the championships:
“We have faced a lot of difficulties at home because we had a period of Covid but with the effort of our team we have overcome these. So we have been able to come here 100% ready for the World Championships.”
On what he has changed since winning silver and bronze at the last two World Championships:
“I have concentrated on my technique and made great progress in my physical preparation. My mind is also stronger.”
On what technical changes he has made to improve his chances of gold:
“The most important thing is to integrate the technique with power. In the past I have made a lot of progress with power, so now I’m trying to improve my technique.
“I have made changes to my last three steps before the take-off, and the ratio between the three stages – hop, step and jump – as well as to my fly time. I’m making a lot of effort to marry all the bits but I need more time to combine them perfectly.”
On whether he feels ready to get it right in Budapest:
“I am not 100% confident, partly because I have jet lag but also I need competition to give me confidence and the feeling of the technique, power and speed coming together.”
On whether he can reach 18 metres:
“It is very hard to say. We are all at a high level and in the triple jump everything is possible. I will try my best to be the winner.
“The competition is very fierce. I will need more than 17.60m to get a medal.”
On the change from running 200m and 400m to running 100m and 200m:
“It was difficult at first. I doubted my ability at 100m but my coach reassured me I’m capable of running a fast 100m. At the time I was supposed to run 200m at the Olympics so I had to put up with negative comments.
“My body physically took a toll. It was Olympic year and I wanted to be well prepared mentally. Even though I was physically fit I think I struggled a lot that season.”
On her expectations at the Budapest World Championships:
“I’m in pretty good shape so it’s all about putting it together. I think everything is possible.
“I worked a lot on preparing to run the 200m. Last year I ran 21.45 but now I am definitely faster, so I’m ready for the championships mentally and technically. All that's left is just to execute a good race.”
On aiming to compete over 100m, 200m and in the relays:
“I love to compete a lot. I just want to show up, have some fun and do my best.
“I’m definitely excited about the relays. I think we are ready. Once we put the line-up together, I think we are capable of anything.”
On whether she is an underdog for the 100m:
“Definitely not. I believe I’m among the best and I’ve been working hard so there’s no pressure for me.”
On not being favourite for gold despite being the world's number one and the ‘new kid in the blocks’ of sprint hurdling:
“I do not think it is bad that people do not consider me favourite because not all the attention is on me. It is not as much pressure for me, which helps me be more focused.”
On whether he can run faster than the personal best of 12.94 he set at this year’s Jamaican Championships:
“I feel I can run faster than 13 seconds here. I don’t know what time I will run but I am in great shape, better shape than I was (at the Diamond League meeting) in Monaco.”
On watching his teammate Hansle Parchment when he was a child:
“In 2012, I was at home watching Hansle on television. He is still here competing, so it is exciting to go head-to-head with him.”
On his athletics journey over the last three years:
“No journey is perfect, it is how you navigate through it. I think I have been doing my best. I am more focused than I used to be, so I think that I did great so far.”
On competing in Budapest as the reigning Olympic champion:
“This season is similar to the one I had ahead of Tokyo 2020. Before Tokyo I did a lot of swimming because of an injury. I am a lot better now but I have been in this sport for a long time and there are a lot of young athletes competing so it is becoming more challenging – people like Rasheed (Broadbell, JAM).
“But it is great. We are looking forward to going 1-2 in the 110m hurdles.”
On what advice he gives to his teammate Rasheed Broadbell:
“Giving advice to Rasheed is not a problem for me. I want him to succeed just as much as I want success for myself. I will be out of this sport sooner than him and I want him to be the best hurdler after that.
“I would prefer to win here and for Rasheed to win a silver. But I am just looking forward to going out there and giving my best.”
On being the underdog in Budapest:
“I do not think I am an underdog. People know what I am capable of. I am looking forward to executing my technique as I do in training, without any pressure.
“I know we have a very competitive field in Budapest. Of course, I want to bring home the gold and I want to beat the Americans. It is going to be very challenging but I am looking forward to it.”
On not going to the college in the USA:
“I was supposed to go to the USA for college but it was a last minute change. I stayed and went to the college in Jamaica.
“I think it was a very good decision for me because otherwise I would have been running every other weekend in the USA, and maybe I would not be here today.
“I had a solid support group so it was a great decision to stay in Jamaica. For others it might not be the case. If you get the support you need abroad – coach, friends, accommodation and other things – go ahead.”
On getting on the wrong bus on the way to the Tokyo Olympic final:
“I was just so focused listening to music. Thank God I left early. My coach always tells me to go to the stadium three hours before the race starts and because of that I was able to make it in time.
“That one day there was a different bus and I did not look at the sign. I just jumped on the wrong bus. But I was in the right area and luckily a volunteer, Tijana, lent me some money to get back to the track.
“After I won, I went back to Tijana, showed her my gold medal and, of course, gave her the money back.”
On the secret behind his confidence:
“Confidence is something you have to build. It is not given. You need to prepare very well, you need to keep the quality high during training. That is the secret.
“My coaching staff takes good care of me and they always know where I am in the preparation process, and what I need to do to improve.”
On whether he feels any pressure:
“Of course, I feel pressure but being nervous is the best way to a great performance. I think it is very important. If you are not nervous then you’ll probably struggle to give your best.
“Everybody is going to feel nerves and everybody is going to be tired towards the end of a race. That is when you have to show your fighting spirit. I like it and hate it at the same time.”
On how he copes with fears and doubts before big events:
“I know a lot of top athletes and one thing is for sure, everyone has doubts, probably more doubts than normal people. Athletes have to act like everything is OK all the time because we have the spotlight on us.
“It is a mind game. You need to learn how to handle the cameras and how to put everything, all the fears, all the doubts behind you. The best you can do is train a lot and prepare for these big times.”
On whether he likes being a favourite for the 100m title:
“I am used to always feeling there are eyes on me and watching me. Of course, it means there’s a heavy burden as well.
“I’ve had quite a roller-coaster season with lots of difficulties, so I know everyone is talking about what I can do, what I’m able to achieve at these World Championships.
“But I prefer to be a favourite because it means they consider me, they consider what I’ve done, they consider my way of competing. And it gives me new energy. That added value, I really cherish.”
On his shape at the moment:
“It’s not an easy question to answer because I faced many challenges over the last two years. But I worked very hard to be ready for these World Championships and I’m feeling OK.
“Maybe, I had a few too many injuries over the last two years but I have really tried to overcome all my problems. I want to be in good shape and perfectly ready to face this very important challenge.”
On how he rates his current condition from one to 10?
“I don’t want to rate myself on a one to 10 scale. I just want to go to the track and find the adrenaline that makes me ready to fight.
“I really have worked hard to remain focused on these World Championships because this is my main goal, this is the only medal I’m missing in my collection. I’d really like to add it.”
On his preparations for the championships:
“It is just another year, I am here to execute and to do my job. I have been preparing in the USA regularly. I did not go to any camp or anything.”
On whether he feels extra pressure with the next World Championships being staged in Japan:
“Definitely, there is some hype [at home] for the next one. We want to perform well. There is a little pressure but I mean, at the same time, we are here to do our job.”
On his targets for Budapest:
“I do not have any specific targets. I just want to make it to the final at 100m and to get a medal. I want to do better than the last year and hopefully, I’ll get what I want.”
On her feelings before the World Championships:
“My competition starts on Saturday, so I am looking forward to it and am very curious about the startlists.
“I heard there are some new rules when it comes to qualification to the next round so I am curious about that, if it will suit me. I am a bit afraid that the heats will not be very fast so it really matters how the heats are divided.”
On her aims in Budapest:
“The first goal is the semifinal and then we can talk about the next target. But the main goal is to get there from the heats.”
On her final preparations before arriving in Budapest:
“I spent one week in Melago where the weather looked more like spring or winter than summer. But everything was going well and I am well prepared. Now the most important thing is to show it on the track.”
On his preparations for the World Championships:
“My training went really well. I was really satisfied with my performance in London where I threw very well at the Diamond League event. I am getting closer to my peak and feel ready for the upcoming challenge. I think can be competitive for the gold.”
On feeling pressure:
“I do not feel any pressure. It is on Ryan (Crouser, USA) I think. He is expected to win so if someone beats him it would be a big surprise and a shame on him.”
On his main target in Budapest:
“My biggest aim is to be in shape to throw a personal best. Then we will see if it is enough for a medal. We cannot have too much control over that.”
On his last few days before the competition:
“You cannot change your physical shape in the last few days too much. What you can do is to prepare mentally. It is a big thing for me – controlling the narrative of the story I tell myself, controlling my expectations and reminding myself how I should deal with the pressure.”
On his thoughts about Budapest:
“I haven’t had time to see the city but after the final I would like to go on a sightseeing tour. The training facility and the main arena are amazing so I will enjoy my time here.”
On her shape at the moment:
“I think I’m in my personal best shape now but six months ago I got injured and I didn’t know whether I’d be capable of competing here. But now I’m more than sure that I’m ready for a personal best.
“Before arriving here I spent a week in Poland at a training camp where we found that I have never been faster.”
On her goals in Budapest:
“My small goal for these championships is to reach the final. But it is also very important for me to run pretty well technically and to run a fast time. I feel confident and there is no better place to show your best than at the World Champs.”
On preparing for this season in a different way because of injury:
“This year is completely different. Because of the injury I was forced to do more bike sessions in the gym and strength exercises mainly for my hamstrings instead of speed training. On the other hand, it helped me to stay healthy during the summer season. Even the battles were part of my preparation.
“I started doing my maximum speed and hurdles at the end of May and then I opened my competition season in the middle of June, which is very unusual for me.
“I had good level runs this summer but was hitting hurdles or doing some mistakes. Fortunately, I have progressed at almost every single competition doing the hurdles faster and faster.
“But my season’s best could be better. During the season I was building my confidence and I came back to the high mental level I had before last year’s Munich European Championships. I have nothing more to do now, just put all the things I trained for together.”
On building up her confidence:
“The level is really high in the women’s hurdles this year, so I have been working a lot on building my confidence over the season. But I have needed it much more over the last two weeks.
“I have been building confidence for many years but my victory at the European Championships last year was a crucial point. I came to Munich with the goal to win and I did it. At that time I believed I could be among the fastest hurdlers in the world.”
On his season so far:
“I have not been competing a lot this season but I have so much on my back. Nowadays, I am a different high jumper. I have been competing for a while and I know my body. I understand much more what to do, when to do it. It is not always about going out there and competing.
“Sometimes, training is all I need. The result of a competition is only a reflection of what you have been doing in training. Sometimes you see me competing once or twice but the outcome is great. If I am not competing, it does not mean that I have not been working.
“I am always trying to improve myself. I am always thinking how I can be better than yesterday. Of course, along the way there are always challenges, whether it is injury or something else.
“If I do not push myself 100% or 110%, I know my limit and how to improve myself. I am here [in Budapest], I do not know what is going to happen but I will give my best.”
On his high jump spikes:
“I always need the right shoes. If you have a fast car without wheels, you can not perform. The same importance goes for a high jumper's shoes.
“My high jump is very technical and for it I need to make sure that I know what I am doing while jumping and the shoes are what gives me confidence.”
On jumping while wearing a watch:
“I am actually jumping with my own watch developed especially for me. It is very lightweight, just 32 grams. I get a lot of questions from people asking me how I can jump with it, and is it too heavy for me?
“I have a very special relationship with this watch and the story behind it. It is very close to my heart. You know, if you have something that you train with, you want to have it by your side at the competition too. This watch gives me a buzz of energy. It is not just a watch, it has a sentimental value for me.
“But I want to keep the story about it to myself for now.”
On whether she is in shape to run a personal best:
“I think I am in personal best shape but I do not think that I have reached my peak yet. I have been preparing to come and give my best, of course.”
On doing a false start at the 2022 World Championships:
“I false started in the semifinal in Eugene but I have changed my perspective this year. I will give my best and try to win a medal. I want to medal in both the 100m and 200m. As long as I get the medal, the place is not that important.”
On whether she feels any pressure before the champinoships:
“I do not feel outside pressure but I put pressure on myself to perform my very best.
“I definitely want to run 10.60 but I do not want to think about the time at all. In the 200m, I believe I can run 21.50 to 21.60. I think 10.60 in 100m could be enough for the title, but no matter I want to go out there and give my best to win a medal for my country.
“I am more focused now on 100m but just because it will be the first event I will compete in.”
On her rituals before a race:
“I do not have a special ritual before the race but I listen to gospel music in my hotel while getting ready. When I travel to the competition venue I listen to soca music or R ’n’ B.”
On how she feels ahead of her mission to win gold in Budapest:
“When I woke up this morning I realised it is the count-down now, so I’m excited. I’m happy to be able to go out on the track today and get a feel for the surface. I’m ready to compete.
“It’s normal for an athlete to have a winner’s mindset but I will take it race by race. I’m keen to enjoy the process and not to overthink everything.”
On what has changed for her since the 2022 World Championships:
“A year ago I put a lot of pressure on myself and I wasn’t even excited for the Worlds because I was so out of it mentally. This year, I’ve been focussed on myself, thinking track and field. I’m back in love with the sport.
“But I won’t stress myself out trying to be perfect. But I think the meetings I’ve run this year prepared me for this.”
On preparing to fight for his third world title in a row:
“Training has been going very well. I’m just finalising and tweaking my run-up. There’s a little bit to change before the championships but if I get that correct now, I’ll be OK.”
On whether he feels the pressure as a two-time defending champion:
“I think about it all the time, all the time. It can be a good thing if I can use it the right way, but it can be bad if it just puts pressure on yourself.”
On his level of fitness now compared to the 2022 World Championships:
“I’m 75% back but over the next few days I’ll work with the massage therapist so I can be at least 85 to 90% by the time I compete, better yet 100%.”
On whether a 90-metre throw is possible in Budapest:
“A 90-metre throw is always possible. We have guys here who have thrown it more than once, and others who have a PB just short of 90m, so all those athletes are capable.”
On whether he will have support from Grenadians at the National Athletics Centre stadium:
“I’m not too sure because it’s so far away, but I know everyone at home will be glued to the TV sets.”
On how he feels ahead of the Budapest World Championships:
“Everything is good. It will be my fifth World Championships so I am happy to be here again. The organisation and the track is very good.”
On his goals in Budapest:
“We have such strong athletes in the 400m hurdles so my first mission is to get to the final and to improve my personal best. Then we’ll see.”
On being a leading star of the Turkish team:
“I feel the responsibility, it’s very important for the rest of the team. I feel like I am their boss as the oldest one and so I am happy to have them around me.”
On looking ahead to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games:
“I have set some goals for Paris already. So after Budapest I will go away and try to improve some things for next year.”