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News18 Aug 2023

Pre-competition flash quotes (18 August) - WCH Budapest 23


Noah Lyles speaks at a press conference ahead of the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 (© Getty Images)

A selection of quotes ahead of the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23.

Quotes from 17 August can be found here.

18 August

Noah Lyles | Gabby Thomas | Fred Kerley | Anna Cockrell | Nia Ali | Will Claye | Katie Moon | Janee' KassanavoidMykhaylo KokhanMaryna Bekh-Romanchuk | Anna Ryzhykova | Femke Bol | Kelsey-Lee Barber | Lieke Klaver | Jason Joseph | Hamish Kerr | Kristjan Ceh | Mujinga Kambundji | Tomas Stanek | Lada Vondrova | Viktoriya Tkachuk


Noah Lyles (USA) – men’s 100m & 200m

On how he builds his self-confidence:

“A lot of people think confidence is automatic and comes out of nowhere but in reality it comes from multiple wins and confirmations. I know what I am capable of.

“I practiced every day and saw my numbers – I saw numbers I have never hit before. Even my coach was getting excited.

“I have a good reason to believe I am going to do something I have never done before.”

On achieving his dreams:

“All my early years were about fighting to get out of hospital and then fighting to get out of school. I was diagnosed as dyslexic and I struggled with ADD. I always tried to find my own way.

“Right now I am fighting on the track. I know exactly the dreams I am fighting for. I am ready to sacrifice everything to reach my goals. I believe I can be the fastest. If you do not believe you can run fast you do not believe in yourself.” 

On competing against Olympic gold medallist, Marcel Jacobs (ITA):

"Right now I do not worry about anyone. That is it.”

Gabby Thomas (USA) – 200m, 4x100m, 4x400m & mixed 4x400m

On competing in the mixed relay event:

“It is a new challenge and it gives you the chance to compete with people who normally you do not run against. We are ready to fight for that win.”

Fred Kerley (USA) – 100m & 200m

On being the reigning world champion:

“I am Fred Kerley, that is my title.

“It should be a good one.” 

On being a farmer as well as a sprinter:

“I do it all.”

On the form of Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs (ITA):

"I do not think we have to spend too many words on him at the moment.”

Anna Cockrell – women’s 400m hurdles

On the support of her family:

“My family is everything to me. It is beautiful and wonderful to meet my personal goals but it is much sweeter with my family here. It has been an eventful two years.

“I guess everybody who has been to the USA has probably seen my dad running around the track. We have a handshake we do before and after every race so it is special to be able to share the biggest moments of my life with the people I love the most. 

“I adore them and it is a process we are going through together. My belief in myself is strengthened by their belief in me.”

On running both the 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles:

“I definitely see myself going for a double in the future. At every level of my career, there was a point when people said, ‘You are going to have to pick one.’ 

"But as I get better, I gain more skills and I get stronger. I have trained for 100m hurdles this year. I love it. I do not think it is something I will ever let go of. If I decide one day I am going just for the 400m hurdles, I still want to do the 100m hurdles in training. I think the ability to do both is what makes me great.”

Nia Ali (USA) – women's 100m hurdles

On being a mother and an athlete:

“They co-exist but they do not exist in the same space. When I am at home I do not think about track and it allows me free space and a clear mind. I have the chance to grow and pay attention to my children.

“When I am on track, I am 100% an athlete and focused on the track. I just try to keep things in a small space so I am not constantly overwhelmed by what I have to do.

“The obligations are heavy and if I can just keep it tight, I will be all right.”

On how her family has contributed to her success:

“My kids keep me humble. When I do not win they are like ‘What happened?’ They are my toughest critics. But they see the hard work I do and give me space when I need to recover. They are going to be here and hopefully I can do my best for them.”

Will Claye (USA) – men’s triple jump

On preparing for his seventh World Championships:

“I remember when I was the young gun and I had to climb up the ranks. It is a real pleasure that I can still keep my performance at a high level and still compete with the best.

“The more experienced I am the less nervous I am at these events. I know how to set my plan. I know how many minutes will be between the final warm-up and my first jump.”

On why he likes the triple jump:

“It is an art, poetry in motion. If you do everything right, your jump will be beautiful. In the last decade the US has always had a strong team. 

“I am really satisfied that I am still here. The long jumpers and triple jumpers have a different kind of style and swag. We just give a different spice to the spectators.”

On changes in his life over the last year:

“I became a father in 2022. My baby girl is growing up so quickly. She inspires me every day, so that has been amazing.

“On the track I had to face some challenges. I switched coaches in order to learn some new tricks. Now I am finally getting to the point when things are starting to come together. I am excited about the World Championships and I think the timing is perfect for me.”

Katie Moon (USA) – women’s pole vault

On contesting her first World Championships since switching from her maiden name of Nageotte to her married name:

“Yes, I am taking my husband’s last name as I think it is easier for people to pronounce. So it is the best scenario for everybody.”

On her recent fitness:

“Last year was a struggle – that is not a secret. But now I feel like a different athlete and I feel ready. I know the work is done and I am prepared to do something good here.

“I have not been out there yet, but I heard only good things about the stadium and the track.” 

On the threat from European champion Wilma Murto (FIN):

“She is a great athlete and I consider her one of my main opponents. On any given day she can have a great one. If I have a bad day, she can absolutely beat me on her good day.”

On what should people should look out for when they watch the pole vault:

“It is cool that you can see the result immediately – you see straight away if they cleared the bar or not. And there is just a lot of drama.

“It is really exciting and there are a lot of good competitors fighting.”

On her future goals in the pole vault:

“The next is to be the American and world record-holder. I feel the fitness is there and I am capable but they are records for a reason. Only one person has jumped that WR, so it is not going to be easy.

“But it is just a matter of getting out there and getting it done. I think I have a chance.”

Janee' Kassanavoid (USA) – women’s hammer throw

On what it would mean to be the first native American to win a world medal:

“It is huge to represent myself on such high level. I would like to inspire the next generation of athletes and young people. I am super excited and ready to fight.”

On contesting the hammer throw in Hungary where it is one of the most popular events:

“I am excited to put on a show and the main goal is to take a podium sweep. It is great to come to a country that appreciates the hammer.

“Flying into the airport and seeing women hammer throwers as a main theme [on the posters], that was empowering and awesome.”

On why people should watch her:

“It is my 10th year and I still have a lot to learn, a lot to accomplish. So I hope I still have something to show. I also hope many young women will get to do the hammer throw as it is evolving.”

On a possible USA podium sweep:

“We have athletes coming back from injury, but we all work very strongly and are just pushing 80m. We have the potential to place 1-2-3.” 

On representing the native people of America:

“We are still here today. And to represent our nation, that means a lot to me. The history of our nation is very important to me.

“There are still many kids in the system who are learning the wrong history. To share my journey and try to influence those around me, as an inspiration, a voice, that person who can shine a light on native American nations – that has just empowered me to fight for success in sport. It is very important.”

Mykhaylo Kokhan (UKR) – men’s hammer throw

On being successful in Hungary:

“I really like Hungary because I threw my first world record here [an U18 world best] when I competed at an under-18 event in 2018. And from that moment, I was really lucky and successful in every competition in Hungary.

“One month ago I beat Wojciech (Nowicki, POL), Bence (Halasz, HUN) and Pawel (Fajdek, POL) at the Gyulai Memorial so I am really excited to compete again in Budapest.”

On his physical condition:

“I feel I prepared well. I trained a lot and have the right physical condition. In the last couple of days I tried to focus on rest as I arrived on the 15th after a long journey.”

On how well he expects to perform in Budapest:

“I do not have any expectations. I just want to enjoy the event and qualify for the final. If that happens, we will see if I am able to surprise the others.”

Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk (UKR) – women’s long & triple jump

On preparing for the current season:

“Even if you have achieved everything you want, sometimes there are still things you can change. It’s an athlete’s mentality. Every one of us strives to be better, stronger, faster.

“Preparation for this season definitely was different. I was forced to skip the indoor season due to a foot injury. It wasn’t serious but it took a long time to fully recover, so I started my summer season later than I usually do.

“I still felt pain competing during my first performances. I cut down my competitions as I needed time for technical training in both the long and triple jump.

“In the middle of the season, I felt a bit exhausted. I needed mental and physical rebooting. Now I’m doing much better, although I cannot say I have no pain.”

On how she prepares for two events:

“Last season I was focused on the long jump, but this year I decided to pay more attention to the triple. It wasn’t as easy as it looks because when you dive deep inside the technical details, you understand how different these events are.

“When I finally managed a correct take-off in the triple jump, it really affected my trajectory in the long jump, and vice versa. It’s like a closed circuit.

On what she expects to achieve in Budapest:

“I’m looking forward to doing my best, especially in the long jump. I have been among the strongest jumpers in the world for years, but I have not been able to prove it at global outdoor events.

“After both competitions, I would like to say I’m satisfied, not only with my performances and results, but also with my places. I hope to have the most positive emotions possible.”

Anna Ryzhykova (UKR) – women’s 400m hurdles

On training with a new group for the 2023 season:

“I’m always looking for new ways to improve, so when I received an offer to join the USA training group with Dalilah Muhammad and Gianna Woodruff, I didn’t think for long.

“It was interesting to train with the strongest athletes in the world but I realised a bit later that their training methods and strategies are too different from my own. They are just different. They have a different mentality, different goals, different physical conditions, different strengths and weaknesses. 

“Certainly, I got a great extra experience, but my own training style is best for me. I got injured in the USA and when I returned to Ukraine I started to correct all the errors and to treat the injuries.”

On her results this season:

“I was shocked a little bit with my first results of the season. I didn’t feel weak physically but I made so many mistakes. I was forced to interrupt my competitions.

“But I had an amazing training camp in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, two weeks ago. I have done great work on all the things I needed to improve. This training camp was possible thanks to World Athletics which still takes care of helping the Ukrainian team prepare for global events.”

On what it meant to return to Ukraine:

“I had two amazing opportunities to go back home this summer. I missed my family so much. Staying at home was like mental treatment for me, even if my native city of Dnipro was shelled several times while I was there.

“Honestly, I worry much more about my family when I am abroad than when I hear exploding outside but can still see all my dear people next to me.”

On her expectations:

“I’m a fighter. I didn’t come to Budapest to give up in advance. I’ll do my best and let’s see what happens.”

Femke Bol (NED) – women’s 400m hurdles & 4x400m

On coming to Budapest as the favourite:

“I am really excited because I made huge progress in the last couple of years. There is a lot of pressure and I need some time for myself to focus more. I closed my social media accounts because I want to stay focused on my performances.”

On world record-holder Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone (USA) pulling out of the World Championships:

“I do not like it because I always want to compete against the best. It is a shame Sydney could not run here. I want to meet the best out there.”

On her current fitness:

“I am in great shape but I have changed my rhythm between hurdles. I have done three or four races with this new rhythm but it is new for me. I am excited to run my first major event with it. I hope to show my shape.”

Kelsey-Lee Barber (AUS) – women’s javelin 

On chasing a third consecutive World Championships gold:

“Of course my goal is to get the world title and to be on top of the podium again – that’s been the aim for my entire season.

“But javelin is one of those events where anything can happen on the day of the final, so I know all the girls in the top 12 will be competitive. Thankfully, I’ve had competitions on the circuit with them this year so it’s familiar. I know it will be a tough fight regardless.” 

On her preparations for the championships:

“It’s as good as it’s going to be. That’s the mentality I’m taking into these championships. I’ll be ready on the day and absolutely fighting for a medal.

“The preparation up to this point is not just the weeks coming in but the years of experience I am taking into the championships. I will rise to the occasion.”

Lieke Klaver (NED) – women’s 400m

On her goals for the championships:

“To have the best race of my life so far and to do it in the final of the 400m. I’ve run 49-seconds twice now so I’m happy with that and I just hope for 49-low.

“I’m also really excited about the relay. I’m not sure about the mixed race yet, but for the women’s I’m really excited. And Sunday is my birthday so it will be a nice week. Sunday is a special day here so I will celebrate it with all of Hungary.”

On running all the rounds at a championships:

“We have extremely hard weeks of training so the week of the tournament is easier for me. I almost feel I can rest now. No, really, to run a lot fuels me. I can’t wait to start.” 

On the atmosphere in the Dutch team:

“It is really good. It feels really like the party is going to start tomorrow. We’re going to have fun with each other, some serious moments and some emotional moments, but mostly a lot of fun.”

Jason Joseph (SUI) – men’s 110m hurdles

On being ranked seventh in the world before the championships:

“It’s nice to be performing on a new level and knowing that I’ve been showing consistency throughout the season. Being number seven there’s certain expectations on me – I wouldn’t says it’s pressure but it is definitely exciting.

“I’m trying to medal here, for real – run fast and do my thing. It’s going too be tough because everybody is running fast, everybody is fit – we’ll see.”

On the pressure of being European champion:

“Eyes are on me but there are a couple of athletes who have run faster than me this season in Europe. So I just need to get to the finals then see what I can do.”

On whether he can run sub-13 seconds:

“I really feel like I can do it. I think sub-13 is just around the corner, but here I don’t feel it is about the time, it is about chasing that medal.”

Hamish Kerr (NZL) – men’s high jump

On what has changed this season:

“I’m in a very different place this year. Last year I got Covid early in the year and had a lot of repercussions – brain fog and I didn’t really recover for a few months, so I came into the world champs hoping to pull something out of the bag.

“This year physically I am in the best shape of my life. I’ve been staying healthy and have a really good coaching set-up as well.

“The next week could be really exciting. Hopefully, I can jump a personal best, which would be 2.35m-plus, and hopefully that would give me a medal as well. So I have big goals but I think they are goals I’m capable of if I put my mind to it.” 

On gaining confidence from winning medals at recent major championships:

“Every time I perform well at a major event gives me massive confidence. It tells me that not only is my body in a good place but my mind is in a good place. On the day, I think I can unlock something I’ve never been able to achieve before.

“But this is my third Worlds and I haven’t actually qualified for a final yet, so there’s some unfinished business around getting that done. If I can get that done then everything is achievable.” 

On what he will need to jump to take a medal:

“There have been some amazing athletes who have dominated our event for the last few years. Some of them have retired and some are getting a bit older but there’s a really strong group of younger guys who are getting stronger. We all really want to put our names out there. 

“If we get two or three over 2.40m in the next few years it would be amazing for the event and the sport. I want to be one of those guys. It’s an exciting time.”

Kristjan Ceh (SLO) – men’s discus

On what he hopes to achieve in Budapest:

“I am physically aggressive but technically I am a little bit behind. But I want to medal here. I hope to get a good result and perform with good technique.

“I had a couple of bad performances in London and in Hungary [at Diamond League meetings]. My technique was not the best. I have been struggling for the last month but I had a good training session two days ago. I threw a stable 68-69m. So I am getting better and better in training. I cannot promise anything but hopefully I can throw over 70m.”

On being the defending world champion:

“Actually, I do not feel any pressure right now although the World Championships came really fast. I came prepared. I was training the whole year and I hope it will result in very good result in Budapest.

“If I throw 71m and finish second, I will know I did my best and there wasn’t much I could do about it. Of course, I am aiming for a good result and a high rank.”

Mujinga Kambundji (SUI) – women’s 100m

On how she's feeling ahead of the championships:

“I didn't have the best preparation over the last few months, so I am just happy to be here. It wasn't sure until the last few weeks and days when I did some good training. I'm excited to see what it means on the track.”

On running only the 100m in Budapest:

“I couldn’t do my usual preparation so I decided to just do one event. I think it’s going to be weird to go home after one event because I am used to doing both and I really love the 200m. 

“But it is OK because next year is important and I am happy that this is just the 100m. That is fine for now.”

Tomas Stanek (CZE) – men’s shot put

On how he feels before qualification:

“I am looking forward to it. I have already checked the weather and it should be all right. The schedule is OK – not that we need to wake up at 5am. The circle looks good, quite fast – so everything seems to be OK. 

“My fitness should be there so I believe I will have enough power to show off. I managed to go over 21m in the last competition so it should not be a problem. The 21.77m in Domazlice was a good signal for me that I can go far. My legs were not the fastest so I think I can show something good in Budapest. I definitely do not want that to be my furthest throw of my season.” 

On contesting the qualification and final on the same day:

“It is always a challenge but it is not the first time we’ve done it this way. I guess some shot putter made some championship organiser angry in the past… But it is going to be the same for every thrower.”

On his plans after the championships:

“I will hurry up home to see my wife Nela and my little son Filip. He was born on 17 July.”

Lada Vondrova (CZE) – women’s 400m

On her goals in Budapest:

“I believe I can repeat my time from the European Games in Poland and I make it to the final. It is going to be tough but I believe luck will be on my side. I will give 100% on every run.”

On what she thinks of the stadium:

“It looks very good. The track is great. I heard there will be a lot of people coming so the atmosphere should be good. I cannot wait.”

Viktoriya Tkachuk (UKR) – women's 400m hurdles

On the changes she’s made in training since taking silver at the Munich 2022 European Championships:

“After last season, I knew I could improve but circumstances forced me to take some risks and change everything. I left my international training group and joined another to train with Femke Bol (NED) for a year. Everything has turned upside down.

“I cannot say it is better or worse because everything is different. Training intensity, the approach to the training process – all of it is different. After training alone, I’m now a member of a big training group – it’s a big challenge.

“I coped with many things mentally, but the body definitely needs more time to adjust to the new work, especially at 28 years old. It’s interesting that my 20-year-old teammates are teaching me such simple things that have an influence on training and my results. 

“I need to learn how to feel my body correctly to understand what I have to do, but I have done the work I had planned before the season. I had a training test a few days ago and it was really successful.”

On why she chose Bol’s group:

“Last year we were at the same training camp In Turkey and Femke asked me to join them. We spent a lot of time together and Femke sent me a message, ‘Welcome to team’. It was so nice and sweet of her and my heart filled with joy.” 

On being inspired by Bol:

“Femke is unbelievable. Everyone knows her fantastic achievements in athletics but as a person she is even more fantastic. She is a personality. She is highly disciplined, responsible, dependable, attentive to people around her. She does so well to manage everything and I take my hat off to her.” 

On her expectations for the Budapest World Championships:

“I don’t want to predict any results. I would like to fulfill the potential I have at the moment. I want to be satisfied with the feeling I have after the finish line. 

“The races in Budapest are going to be very special for me as my mother will be here to watch. She has been as a spectator at very few of my competitions in Ukraine. I know I’ll be much more stressed with her presence at the stadium but I’m glad she has a chance to see her daughter competing at a major event. I would like to have a third eye so I can see all her emotions.”

On her hobby as a photographer:

“I have one more dream for these championships. After finishing my own event I would like to try to be a photographer from a real photo position at the stadium. I know it sounds strange and mostly impossible, but no one will stop me from dreaming.

 “I fell in love with making photos years ago. It’s my hobby. I don’t remember how and when it started but I like to catch athletes’ emotions and movements because I feel them deep in my heart.”

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