Series22 Feb 2016

First impressions – Brianne Theisen-Eaton


Canadian heptathlete Brianne Theisen-Eaton (© Getty Images)

World heptathlon silver medallist Brianne Theisen-Eaton is one of favourites for a pentathlon medal at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 next month.

The Canadian combined events star recalls some firsts in her world both on and off the track.

First sport

It was tee-ball (a simplified version of baseball and softball for young children) and I wasn’t very good. My dad is a competitive guy and he signed me up to play from the age of three or four. I hated tee-ball. I remember my dad was so frustrated when I was more interested poking a stick into an ant’s nest hole.

I also remember my dad saying “please get ready” when I was in the field. I’d be in the bent knee position in the outfield, where no one was going to hit the ball. I’d stand out there the whole inning.

First race

I was in seventh grade competing in the 100m, which I won. The meeting took place in the small village of Muenster near my home town of Humboldt in the province of Saskatchewan. I competed on a gravel track and I remember wearing baggy soccer shorts and the dust flying up off the track.

I was always the fastest girl in my grade, so I was super-intense and I treated the event like it was the Olympic Games or World Championships. Of all the sports I played, athletics was the one that came easiest to me.  

First overseas athletics experience

The first time I had ever been outside of North America was to compete at the 2005 World Youth Championships in Morocco and I don’t know whether it was because it was my first overseas trip but it was one of favourite experiences. I loved every part of it; the hot weather, the markets.  

The only disappointment was the track meet itself. I finished 17th and felt a little underprepared because I had not anticipated two sessions a day and to have a break for six hours between the high jump and the shot put.

First media interview

I had made the team for the 2005 World Youth Championships and the local TV station wanted to interview me, my parents and sister. I remember all four of us were super uncomfortable and my sister and I answered all the questions very briefly. Looking back, it was not a very long interview. It was hilarious.

First fashion disaster

I had a yellow coloured velour jump suit that made me look like I was banana. I must have worn it during grade seven or eight at school. What was I thinking?  

First piece of clothing you bought

My mum and dad used to buy most of my clothes but my parents and I didn’t agree on everything. I wanted a pair of expensive designer jeans for $100 but mum and dad thought I only needed to buy a pair for $40. They agreed that if I wanted those jeans I had to save up out of my allowance. I remember saving the money and spending $100 on my first pair of jeans. I never regretted the purchase because I have long, skinny legs; I prefer to spend the extra money on jeans so they look right.  

First thing you learned to cook

Tomato soup from a can! I used to love tomato soup with crackers, so much so that to make life easier my mother taught me how to do it.

First book which made you cry

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. It is about a girl who has cancer and her younger sister was the only bone marrow match, who throughout feels obligated to help her big sister. 

It is a very emotional story and I don’t know whether it is because I too have a sister but that was the first book I cried about.

First kiss

I was in grade eight. It was a big deal that none of our friends had ever kissed anyone and it happened in the computer room in my friend’s house. All the girls and guys were asking how it was, but these things are awful. It was far from the ideal first kiss!

First pet

I had always wanted a dog and when we were driving along we saw this puppy in a ditch with its mum. My mum returned them to the animal rescue centre but I begged my mum to keep the puppy.

We went along the next day and the puppy had been taken but I remember we kept its mother. I named her Princess Jasmine. It was not a cute dog at all – I can’t remember what breed she was – but my dad was embarrassed to call her Princess Jasmine when we were out and about and preferred to call her Jasmine!

Steve Landells for the IAAF