A Note From: Ashton
The Olympic Games sits in back of the minds of nearly every athlete. The chance to participate, the chance to medal, these entice us to remain on the relentless pursuit despite the uncertainty. All our “golds” do. When on this journey, you can’t help but seize every moment of affirmation that says “you’re on the right path.” The World Indoor Championships in Portland were just that.
Every day, for years, I see the work Brianne puts into bettering herself and her heptathlon score. The slow and sometimes painful accumulation of days and days of practice upon practice upon failure upon success, give me a deep sense of how much life energy her gold requires. Her moment of determination, then victory, was one of those times I’ll never forget. And for her, affirmation that she's on the right path.
Having the competition “at home” made the event all the more special. Athletes not only want good results, but also to share what we’ve been working so hard to produce. To be able to share our performances with the place where we have been developed is rare and awesome. Not only that, but having our friends and family there to experience the results of our hard work, the thing that keeps us away from them for so many years, is truly a gift without measure.
As for myself, Portland2016 was a moment consisting of affirmation, celebration, and evaluation. Like most pursuits the road is not always direct. There were things in this competition that happened that showed me I may not achieve my gold unless I improve or change them. Others showed me I’m doing well. I think this is the nature of things. The double victory for us is an accomplishment along the way that we are proud to have captured. But you can’t stay too long at a nice hotel if you still have a place to go. Now we turn our focus to outdoor track.
A Note From: Brianne
Since the World Championships in Beijing last summer, when I completely fell apart mentally, I have struggled to believe in myself and find confidence.
My coach, Harry, and sports psychologist, Penny, spent time talking with me and analyzing what went wrong in Beijing and we developed a plan of how to fix it. Since then, I’ve put in hours upon hours of work with Penny to make me a stronger athlete mentally.
At first, this plan seemed impossible because I felt so lost, but slowly and surely I have begun to make progress. I’ve learned what true focus is, on how to keep my focus, and what I should be focusing on. I know that I have to focus on myself; on how good I can, how high I can jump, far I can throw, and fast I can run. That I have to be able to relax and allow my body to do what it knows how to do. To accept that the fitness and technical understanding I have the day of the competition is what I have to work with. Those aren't the times to be fixing things.
My only goal going into the World Indoor Championships was to execute the above plan. I was more nervous than ever because this test would tell me if all the work I was doing was helping. If I couldn’t execute the plan, then what? My mind was going so much I slept 4 hours the night before the competition, and found myself running down the streets of Portland at 2:30am to Ashton’s hotel to get some NyQuil to help me sleep and calm me down.
So the relief you saw on my face after the 800m when it was announced I had won wasn’t because I won a gold medal, it was because I had proven to myself that I could do it, that all the hard mental work I was doing was paying off.
This is something both current and former athletes, sports psychologists, mentors, and coaches have all told me. I’ve had a really hard time believing this until now because Portland was the first time in my career that I’ve competed this way. I couldn’t have done any more.
So I view the World Indoor Championships as a breakthrough. Now, on to outdoor.