Series23 May 2016

First impressions – Ivana Spanovic


Ivana Spanovic in the long jump qualification at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 (© Getty Images)

Long jumper Ivana Spanovic has made it on to the podium at the past four global championships.

Spanovic competes this weekend at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, the fourth stop of the 2016 IAAF Diamond League series. Here the Serbian star offers a glimpse into her world by taking on our first impressions questions.

First sport

It was karate. I trained with my older brother in karate for one or two years and I reached a green belt. My brother then moved into football and then I switched to athletics because my mum used to do the sport. Karate was fun and interesting. Did it help my athletics? Well, I know how to fight!

First competition

It was a school sprint race, which I won. The coach at the time asked me if I would like to run 600m and try the high jump, triple jump, shot put, long jump – I tried everything and won everything. It was always very interesting, I used to compete against the older girls then and it made me really happy when I beat them. Sometimes I used to race at school in the 1000m or 600m. They often used to put me up to run against the boys and I remember when I raced and beat the boys on one occasion.

First overseas competition

That came when I was aged about 11 in a Balkan Championship event in Greece. It was exciting and it was a big thing for me. It was a lot of good fun and I have many happy memories from this period. I didn't win, but it was a good experience. 

First coach

His name was Jani Hajdu and we were together 13 years. He was also the trainer of my mum, who was a long jumper and sprinter. He is still part of the family today. Every time I go back to my home town of Zrenjanin, we speak on the telephone, and he is a really good support. It was great to work with him. He was a massive influence on my career.

First medal at an international competition

It came at the 2007 World Youth Championships in Ostrava. I won silver, but I was very angry because I was first until the sixth round when Darya Klishina jumped six centimetres farther than me. I didn't have much experience back then and I struggled to respond. It was hard for me to lose the gold medal but now I know how to stay patient and focused.

First media interview

Because of my athletics achievements, my first interview came at the age of eight or nine. I remember I was very shy and I struggled to articulate what I wanted to say. I was so confused. Today I understand being interviewed by the media is part of my job and I try to do better. Even today, though, I can never listen to my own voice after an interview. I have to turn down the volume and just watch the pictures. 

 First hair disaster

When I was younger, I regularly experimented with my hair. Aged about 14, I remember shaving one side of my head. I remember it was a disaster. I loved to experiment with the length and colour of my hair and I did some stupid things up until I was about 18. When I look back at pictures of my hair when I was younger, it reminds me of my crazy childhood.  

First thing you learned to cook

My brother is a chef and he works in the restaurant of the ladies' fitness centre that I run with my fiancee in Novi Sad. I learned a lot about cooking from my brother and I was always happy when he was satisfied with a dish that I cooked. I think the first dish I learned to cook was pasta. We love pasta in Serbia.

First pet

It was a Persian cat called Marco. We had him for about 13 years. I loved that cat very much. I remember my mum and I suffer from migraines and every time we felt pain, the cat used to sleep on our heads. It was always crazy to think that sometimes when we slept we had a cat on our head.

First car

I got my first car from the Serbian athletics federation after winning the world junior title in 2008. I received a small girlie car, a Citroen C1. It was small, but it was the right car to have at the time because I'd only just started driving.

First CD or download

It was a long time ago, but I think it was a CD of Avril Lavigne that my friends bought me. It was a good album back then but not something I would listen to today.

Steve Landells for the IAAF