Series07 Apr 2014

Work, rest and play – Brigetta Barrett


World and Olympic high jump silver medallist Brigetta Barrett (© Getty Images)

World and Olympic high jump silver medallist Brigetta Barrett is a talented all-rounder with a passion for singing, poetry and acting. We speak to the US athlete about how she operates at work, rest and play.


What are your three favourite things about being an athlete?

Brigetta Barrett: One is it gives me a great platform to share the gospel. I'm not ashamed to say I believe in God. Most people admire the fact I stand for something and I like that fact I can share that with someone.

Two is it is fun. I know it sounds really boring but as long as you enjoy what you do and it leads you to that bright light or that dream, then go for it.

Number three is the different places and people I see (competing in athletics). I've met countless people from numerous different countries with many different languages. I'm aged 23 and I can't count how many great places I've travelled to.

What is the worst element to being an athlete?

BB: It is struggling to balance the people who are most important in my life with the demands of training. It sometimes breaks my heart if I miss a call from someone or if someone says that they miss me. I had a call from my twin sister the other day saying she misses me. Yet (because of my training demands) I'm so limited in the action I can take to solve that.

Do you have a favourite training venue?

BB: I don't have a preferential place in my mind, but if I could train anywhere it would be Sweden. I love Sweden. Being there for the first time completely captivated me. It is so beautiful and the people are amazing.

What is your favourite type of music to train to?

BB: I'm schizophrenic with my music taste. When I'm warming up for competitions I like to listen to Christian rap. It helps get me in an energetic mode. We Live as Kings are my favourite Christian rap band. I've completely played their album out.


What is your favourite way to relax?

BB: Singing. It is something I've always done since I was a little girl. I sing whether I'm happy or whether I'm sad, but especially when I'm sad. I wear my emotions by singing.

What is your perfect non-training day?

BB: If I'm not working on one craft, I like to work on others like singing or acting or writing poetry or creating something. It would be a fun day. I could sleep in and then catch up with people I don't normally get the chance to see like my mum, sister and friends. Also, hopefully, someone would cook an awesome meal for me because I hate cooking. I'd like to watch a good movie and go to a slam poetry night.

What is your favourite movie?

BB: I love Brown Sugar and Love and Basketball. They are love stories and I love good love stories. When I'm travelling overseas I love to watch foreign romance films, especially those from the Asian film industry. The stories are really good and their actors are always so believable and sincere. They have found a way to tell the story that is honest rather than commercial or gimmicky.

What is your favourite drink?

BB: Boba tea. It is a milk drink with tapioca.

What is your favourite meal?

BB: It might sound very random, but I'm the kind of person that makes summer meals, as in some of this and some of that. My favourite is my mother's baked macaroni and cheese. Living in California I've also got into some other different types of dishes and I really like curry chicken stew made with coconut milk.


When did you first discover you had a good singing voice?

BB: When I was a young girl I was always singing, but my sisters always told me to shut up, so I didn't believe I could sing. It was only when I decided to enter a school talent show to make my mum proud that I knew I had a good voice. I sang The Greatest Love of All by Whitney Houston a-cappella-style and so many people reacted and said it sounded amazing. It was like, wow, I really can sing.

Who are your singing heroes?

BB: Definitely Whitney Houston, I also love Michael Jackson and Beyoncé. She is the last true entertainer. I also admire Brandy.

Which of the top artists does your voice most sound like?

BB: I definitely feel I can sing any Beyoncé song, but I think it is heavily inspired vocally by Whitney Houston. My sound mimics a lot of Whitney Houston with Beyoncé.

If you could sing a duet with anyone in track and field, who would it be and why?

BB: I know Aries Merritt sings a lot. I'll say Aries Merritt.

How does your athletics help your singing and vice-versa?

BB: Being an athlete helps every area of your life because it gives you discipline. However, athletics gives you something beyond discipline. It offers a relentlessness of being. Singing helps my athletics for the mere purpose of remembering it is not the end of the world. No high jump bar is really as important as we make it seem.

Steve Landells for the IAAF