Australia’s Jared Tallent has won six medals at Olympic Games and IAAF World Championships in both the 20km and 50km race walk, including taking a silver medal over the longer distance at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015.
He offers us the inside track on some of the best aspects of his life, both inside and outside of athletics.
My best athletics achievement
All three of my Olympic medals are special but the silver (50km) and bronze (20km) I won in Beijing were the highlight. The whole week in Beijing was memorable. My wife, Claire, who was my fiancée at the time, also set a personal best (in the women’s 20km race walk). We then got married a week later. It was a special time.
My best friend in athletics
It would definitely be my wife, Claire. We made our first Olympic team together in Beijing and have always fully supported each other through every competition. We first competed at the top level together at the 2004 World Race Walking Cup. It helps that Claire is from a race walking background because we both understand what each other is going through and we can help each other as much as we can.
My best achievement outside of athletics
I would say, owning my home. My wife and I bought our house in Adelaide in 2013. We enjoy it here, close to Claire’s family. We don’t have the stress of paying a mortgage, which allows me to concentrate on training. It is a three bedroom house with a theatre room complete with a 110 inch screen.
My greatest rival
In the 50km, I have two main rivals. One would be the world champion from Beijing, Matej Toth of Slovakia. He also beat me in the 2010 World Race Walking Cup. The other would be the Chinese race walker Si Tianfeng. I finished one place ahead of him at the Olympics in 2012 (with Tallent taking the silver and Si bronze) and at the 2011 World Championships (where Tallent won the bronze medal). We have a good rivalry and we’ve had some good close battles. Both men are very consistent walkers and always feature at the top.
The best piece of coaching advice
To never worry about what you have or haven’t done in the past. It is all about what you can do from that moment forwards. This was a piece of advice from Tudor Bidder, a performance manager at the Australian Institute of Sport.
I especially took on board this advice after my training had gone poorly this year up until May. I then thought, I can’t worry about what I’ve done to this point, I just have to focus on what I can do for the next few months.
My greatest indulgence
Wine. I have a bit of a collection at home. I live in Adelaide and the surrounding area is known for its outstanding wine areas like the Barossa Valley. I enjoy wine tasting and during the off-season I enjoy the odd wine at dinner. I started to get into wine when I first moved to Adelaide in 2013. I like a good Shiraz (red wine) and Riesling (white).
The best race walking venue
Fawkner Park in Melbourne. Each December there is a race there, and it has held the 50km nationals in the past. The course is straight, fast and beautifully tree-lined. I have set many PBs there. It is nicely shaded by the trees and it is a beautiful course.
My greatest disappointment
It was the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. Training had gone really well that year but in St Moritz in July I hurt my shin and hardly trained at all in the final six weeks before the championships. I don’t know whether my ego got the better of me, but I maybe went out a bit too hard (in the 50km).
At 40km, I was leading and with three kilometres to go I was holding bronze, but I faded badly and finished seventh. I felt pretty distraught at the end, especially because of how well the Beijing Olympics had gone the previous year.
The best athlete I have ever seen
I can’t go past Usain Bolt. Every time I’ve been at a major champs I’ve seen him run the 100m and the 200m, and he’s just incredible. What he achieved at the 2009 World Championships was mind-blowing.
Steve Landells for the IAAF