Series25 May 2015

Personal bests – Brianne Theisen-Eaton


Canadian heptathlete Brianne Theisen-Eaton (© Getty Images)

Canada’s world silver medallist Brianne Theisen-Eaton will contest her first heptathlon of the year this weekend at the Hypo Meeting in Gotzis.

But first she talks about the best things in her life.

The best piece of coaching advice

What has resonated with me is it is better to get to the line 80% in shape but 100% healthy rather than 100% in shape and 80% healthy. It always used to scare me to think I could go into an event in only 80% shape. Yet from experience it is so much harder to compete at your best when you have a nagging injury. As long as you are 100% healthy, a combination of the adrenaline and competition can compensate for your lack of fitness and you can achieve some amazing things.

My greatest rival

We’ve seen a lot of athletes jockeying for position to be top of the pile in recent years. We’ve had Jessica Ennis-Hill, who more recently has taken her couple of years off, and a couple of other senior heptathletes have done the same. So my greatest rivalry happened last year at Gotizs with Katarina Johnson-Thompson. The heptathlon is all about competing and although it is stressful, it can also be fun and that is how I felt at Gotzis. It was close competition, which came down to the 800m. She beat me, which is great because it lights a fire under my butt.

My best friend in athletics

When it comes to heptathlon, I mesh with certain athletes above others. I would say one person I really get on well with is Hanna Melynchenko (the world champion from Ukraine). I also get on well with Ellen Sprunger (13th in the heptathlon at the 2013 World Championships) from Switzerland and Damian Warner, a fellow Canadian combined eventer and some-time training partner.

The best athletics venue

Gotzis. There’s nowhere like it. It is funny because when I first arrived there in the week leading up to the event, I was a little underwhelmed at the six-lane track in the middle of a field in a tiny little town. I said to my coach, Harry Marra, ‘I don’t get it. The place is deserted there’s nothing here’ but Harry replied, ‘just wait’. He was right.

The day or so before the meet, they started putting up tents and advertising and it transformed into a different place. Tents were pitched from campers, four different beer gardens erected. Thousands of people surrounded the track on competition day, music is playing and everyone gets super involved.

My greatest disappointment

It came in 2011 when, for the first time, I had missed the whole of the outdoor season through injury. Sitting idle during the World Championships sucked.

The best athlete I’ve ever seen

David Rudisha is pretty incredible for a number of reasons. I always say many people don’t appreciate the endurance events. Most people couldn’t run one lap at the same pace as a top 10,000m runner and those guys are running 25 laps at that pace. For David Rudisha to run two laps as fast as he does, often with no competition, just blows my mind. From what I have heard, he is also a good person. He’s the whole package.

My greatest indulgence

It would be any kind of candy – Starburst or Skittles or Jellybeans. I have to buy little tiny bags one at a time because if I bought them in bulk, I just wouldn’t stop eating them.

Steve Landells for the IAAF