US long jumper Tianna Bartoletta (© Giancarlo Colombo)
A lot has happened in the 14 years since Tianna Bartoletta won the world long jump title as a teenager.
Between her two global outdoor long jump triumphs in 2005 and 2015, the US long jumper had some difficult years on and off the track. But she is keen to use her vast experience, not only in her own development as an athlete and a person, but also to help the next generation of stars and fans.
“I think my longevity in my career is due to this little personality quirk I have that just won't quit,” she says on the latest episode of IAAF Inside Athletics. “Even though I sometimes have a good reason to or all the signs say that I should, I just don't quit.
“For the seven years that I was pretty horrible at this sport, I kept showing up and going to the track. I had a weird reason why I kept showing up, but I had a reason why and that's what I try to impress on a lot of younger athletes. Find out a reason why you're doing this, because that 'why' can be the thing standing between you and leaving the sport completely.
“I'm unguarded in my responses and interactions with the press. I’ve been on the circuit for 13 years. I'm here; I know what it's like. To see an athlete say something that feels like it has just been pulled from a can, it does a disservice not only to the athlete because they've completely removed their personality from the response, but it's doing a disservice to the fans who actually bother to tune in to hear what you have to say about your event or performance, and to up-coming athletes who will search for you on Google or YouTube to see how you handle yourself.
“If I stand up there and say something as clichéd as 'oh it just wasn't on the cards for me today', who learns anything from that response? I learned that in order to fully embrace my journey and pay it forward, you have to be honest and bring your experience to everything.”