Laura Ikauniece-Admidina in the heptathlon javelin at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 (© Getty Images)
World bronze medallist Laura Ikauniece-Admidina is among the planet’s finest heptathletes, a status she underscored with her fourth-place finish at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August. Here the Latvian combined eventer devotes some time to respond to our first impressions questions
My first and only coach is Andis Austrups. I started working with him when I was nine years old and we have been together for around 14 years.
It was a school 600m race. I won and afterwards my current coach, Andis Austrups, approached me to ask if I was interested in training seriously for track and field. I felt honoured that finally I was doing what I liked and I wanted to make my mum proud. My mum, Vineta Ikauniece, is the Latvian record holder in the 60m/100m/200m/400m sprints, so she knows what it means to train. Before track I did dancing, which was my mum’s wish. However, after the coach approached me, my mum was happy for me to choose either dance or track and field.
First media interview
I can't remember that, but I can guess I was stressed out! I have never liked interviews.
First international medal
That was the heptathlon silver medal I won at the 2009 IAAF World Youth Championships in Bressanone, Italy. Bressanone was a very beautiful place and I remember it is where I enjoyed the best pizza I have ever eaten. Later that year I competed in Finland at the European Youth Olympic Festival and won high jump bronze and only missed a medal by one centimetre in the long jump.
I guess that was dancing. As I said I danced for four years and then during my first year in track and field I did hip-hop. In childhood, I did everything – I played football, basketball, handball, volleyball. I was a bit of a tomboy. I liked to compete with the boys and climb trees. I started track and field as a distance runner competing from 800m to 2km. I won lots of medals in my age group, before the coach later put me in the long jump and over time my heptathlon journey evolved.
First athletics disappointment
That came in Talence in 2011 when I was concussed after I was hit with a stray discus in the head. The incident resulted in me failing to finish a heptathlon for the first time. I had started the competition well, so it was very sad.
First athletics idol
Of course, it was my mum. I always wanted to beat her Latvian records. At home I always saw a wall full of medals and I wanted the same. To this day, I still haven’t beaten my mum’s national sprint records. A later idol of mine was Natalya Dobrynska, the 2008 Olympic heptathlon champion. We competed together at the London Olympics and also in that same competition in Talence when I was struck by the discus. I spoke to her a little but on the bus, she was friendly and we shared the same star sign (Gemini).
The first toy I remember was a little toy bunny given to me by my grandmother. I liked that toy so much, I still have it today. It looks very similar to a real bunny.
First thing learned to cook
My mum said I was always very keen to learn more about how she cooked things in the kitchen. From the age of seven my mum taught me to cook eggs, potatoes and salad. Later I started to cook meat. We are from a family of hunters, so we often get good meat from the Latvian woods. Now I think I am a better cook than my mum, and she agrees, but nobody can cook quite like my grandmother. Her meat is the best.
My first pet was a family dog. Later I also got a hamster, Melnite, he lived for two years and after his death I asked for another one. However, my mum didn't want one, so I with my step-father and step-brother bought a hamster and kept it secret for two days until my mum found out. That hamster was boy and I call him fast2 after the movie (2 Fast 2 Furious) that came out at that time. That hamster was really quick and I was gutted after he died after two years.
Steve Landells for the IAAF