News14 May 2012

No end in sight for the Tallent trio - Saransk 2012


Jared Tallent of Australia on his way to bronze in Saransk (© Getty Images)

Three Tallents in the same family should be enough for anyone.

But it looks as if there are more in the pipeline once Claire Tallent decides to hang up her racers – although starting a family with the man who won a second bronze at the IAAF World Walking Cup Sunday might now be on hold.

Buoyed by a March PB that bettered her previous by three minutes plus, and an impressive attack on the almost impregnable Russians in the 20k that followed Jared’s medal, Claire Tallent wants a bit more.

Both want a lot more for sister and sister-in-law Rachel Tallent.

The youngest of a unique trio – the first time three family members have competed at the World Cup at the same time – can’t wait for her brother to quit the sport.

He nags, you see.

"It’s for her own good," explains Jared, "we only want what’s best for her."

But the bronze and silver Olympic medallist admits he takes on the role of surrogate dad when the three are away on walking trips like the one to Saransk in Russia.

Does he watch what she does? What she eats, perhaps? Does he tell her off for sneaking a chocolate bar now and then?

"All the time," claims Rachel in mock despair. "I keep telling Jared I’m still a junior, and I should be allowed a few treats but he’s on my case."

Jared counters that she is the family favourite of six, and a phone call home to Australia might not go down well if there was a dereliction of duties.

The trio is half-joking of course, but when the blonde Rachel was interesting a group of young Canadian athletes during the weekend – one of them felt compelled to ask Jared for permission to ask her out to a club.

"I wasn’t drinking or anything like that," adds Rachel hastily. Perish the thought, especially as big brother is watching warily from the next seat.

The junior is clearly serious about treading in the footsteps of bruv and sis-in-law and the IAAF World Junior Championships is next on the list of majors after committing to the AIS in Canberra.

The specialist sports centre for Aussies is where the best go for the next step in their athletics career.

It’s where Jared and Claire started out before buying a house close by, although Rachel has been invited to stay many times.

"No thanks," she smiles. "I see enough of them when we’re training during the week."

There is an afternoon session when the three might do an easy 10k together, or when Rachel and Claire are in the weights room.

"Jared doesn’t bother with that," his wife points out.

And to his credit the brother-husband admits they had to modify Rachel’s training after she picked up a stress fracture two weeks in to a particular programme.

It doesn’t seem to have been anyone’s fault, although a bit more analysis went into the 10k walker’s preparation that saw her lead the first 2k in the junior 10k race at Saransk.

"She was always race walking around the house as child," reckons Jared, "it was pretty easy for her to make the transition to competition."

But none of the other four brothers and sisters did so, and Rachel reckons that when her brother – 12 years the elder – retires, she might stop being known as 'Jared’s little sister’.

Come to that, Claire adds quickly, she might not be always be known as 'Jared’s wife.’

The man in question reckoned he was 'out of his depth’ in the last 10k of the 50k against the Russians in Saransk – but he is being tough on himself having led the race from the gun in a deliberate ploy to draw the sting from the red vests.

Surely a major gold will follow at some stage.

As a result, it might be a while before little sister has an identity in his own right. Her walking guardian plans to medal at this Olympics in August, and the next in 2016.

Maybe by then, the women Tallents will be jostling for space on the mantelpiece with their own awards thanks to his considered coaching, or nagging – depending on your point of view.

Paul Warburton for the IAAF