I used to run when I was younger, but like any kid, I got a growth spurt around 8 or 9 years old. Running was hurting me so I started doing high jump, throwing the javelin, and that kind of stuff. My dad entered me for Nationals when I was 12 or 13 years old in Holland and I placed third in the country. I thought, oh, I’m kind of good at this. When you’re at the top of something, it’s fun to do.
I always loved the javelin. I just like to throw stuff. And high jumping, because I’m pretty good at it.
The distance running gets harder because you get bigger and heavier.
Most of the decathlon events are power and speed-based. The 1500M run becomes pretty hard and the throwing events become easier over the years. However, every year you get stronger and faster too—so the rhythm gets thrown off. You have to find that perfect spot of combined speed and power to still get the maximum result.
I get really jacked up for javelin, because it feels like my event and I want to own it. But with the high jump, I have to be really calm or else I’ll run too fast or blow out on my takeoff. For hurdles I have to be hyped up, but for the discus—which is the event right after hurdles—I have to calm down.
When I was younger, if one event didn’t go well, I would get so pissed off that I would mess up all the events after. But as I’ve gotten older I understand that I can’t change the past and I have to keep looking forward. It’s hard to keep that mentality when you have so much adrenaline though.
Definitely. I’ll be 30 in two months and 2020 is just too far out. I’ll try for the World Championships in 2017.
I’d like to coach. Right now when the youngsters train with me it’s nice to help them and see them improve. I’d still be involved with track and field, and back home I majored in physical education as a teacher where I also worked with physically and mentally disabled people. Maybe personal training too—that could be fun.