Olympic heptathlon champion Nafissatou Thiam is currently the world’s pre-eminent female combined-eventer. Here the Belgian reflects on her first major senior global championships as a key staging post in her development.
"I have had many big moments so far in my athletics career, but I particularly remember competing at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow, which was my first senior global championships. The previous month I had struck gold at the European Junior Championships, which was my main goal for the summer. There I had set a PB and national record of 6298, so to be given the chance to travel to Moscow was simply a great learning experience. Only 18 at the time, I had no pressure or expectation on my shoulders, but it was to prove such a step up from competing at the age-group championships.
“Competing in Moscow was amazing and I remember being at the warm-up track surrounded by athletes I looked up to and admired. I was a little star-struck. The whole scale of the competition was so much bigger than anything I had previously experienced. I remember thinking it is crazy, here I am watching everybody. It was just like being in a movie.
“I remember getting my picture taken with David Oliver (who won 110m hurdles gold in Moscow) and watching Usain Bolt warm up and run.
“I don’t remember too much of how I performed there (Thiam finished 14th with 6070). I was tired having competed at the European Junior Championships in Rieti the month before, but it was a great experience and I was proud of the way I performed.
“I recall being in a vast stadium – I had never seen so many people. There was so much noise and I remember being quite stressed ahead of the 200m.
“It was also cool to visit Moscow. It is a historic city that you hear so much about and it was nice to see with my own eyes what it was really like. Looking back at my first World Championships, it was a huge event for me. It was something you only dream about. It acted as a real incentive and motivation to compete at more major championships. It was the beginning of a new adventure and a new story."
Steve Landells for the IAAF