Long jump winner Ivana Spanovic at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Oslo (© Mark Shearman)
With just three days to go until the start of the 2017 IAAF Diamond League series, world and Olympic long jump bronze medallist and 2016 Diamond Trophy winner Ivana Spanovic spoke to the media via a teleconference on Tuesday (2).
In addition to her Diamond League laurels last season, the 26-year-old Serbian also won medals at the three biggest events of the year: bronze at the Olympic Games, silver at the IAAF World Indoor Championships and gold at the European Championships. Earlier this year she retained her European indoor title on home soil in Belgrade with a lifetime best of 7.24m, the longest indoor leap since 1989.
Spanovic will make her 2017 IAAF Diamond League debut at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene on 27 May. Ahead of that appearance, Spanovic recalled the early days of her competitive career and shared some of her thoughts and expectations for the 2017 season. Here are some of the highlights.
On how difficult it was to resume training after her emotional victory at the European Indoor Championships in March:
It was really tough when the competition ended because it was an indoor championship and in front of my Serbian crowd. There was a lot of expectation so I knew that I had to do something more than just win. I knew that I had to do something really big. And I did. There was really good positive energy from the people there. I think it was also really good preparation for the outdoor season.
Afterwards I was really tired. I had the flu after that because I was emotionally and physically empty, so I had some time to relax. Then I started to train again. And for now, I’m really satisfied on how I’ve worked since then and I cannot wait to start with the season.
On the importance to of testing herself regularly against the best jumpers in the world during the Diamond League season:
I like good competitions. I love to go into a competition where I know that I need to jump farther, where I need to feel 100% in everything that day.
I know that there are a few girls who can jump pretty far, and it will be pretty exciting to jump in Eugene. It will be my first competition and I know that I won’t be able to jump 7.20m or a result like that, but I’ll be on my level like at the start of every season and I’m just going to try and beat my PB from the (debut) competition of each (previous) year.
On her chief competitors in 2017:
Besides the Americans (three-time world champion Brittney Reese and world and Olympic champion Tianna Bartoletta), the girls who I expect to be at a high level will be Shara Proctor and Lorraine Ugen. (Lorraine) jumped really good this indoor season and the previous one, and I know what kind of motivation a home crowd (provides), and I expect from them to jump more than seven metres. But for gold, I think much more than that will be needed.
On the changes in the IAAF Diamond League format this year:
I’m not really happy that we (women long jumpers) have two Diamond League meetings less this year. There will always be some changes and that’s okay. Last year was a little bit tough because we didn’t have time to take a pause during the series. It was going too fast. But the rules are the same for all of us and we’ll find a way to be the best in our competitions.
On the secret of her season-long consistency:
(Laughs). I really don’t know but I really enjoy everything about my training, about my rest, about eating what I need to eat because I know that will bring me the extra centimetres. And I’m enjoying every single day and every single competition.
This year is 20 years after my first training in track and field. Now I can say that I’m finally where I want to be.
On her experiences in age group competition, where she won world youth silver in 2007 and world junior gold in 2008:
I just remember that those days went by really, really fast. Suddenly I was a senior in the water with really big sharks who already had so many medals from major championships, and big jumps, and I was such a small fish that it was really hard for me to just find myself there.
There were a few years that were really, really hard but I knew what I needed to do. Just to work harder and harder and not think too much about my emotions and feeling that I’m not the best. I just had to keep fighting for my dreams.
After the first junior medal it became so much easier to just to be myself and do what I do best. Back in those days I remember those competitions as when I met and made a lot friends, and it was fun. And there was no pressure.