Jemima Montag is our 10th Athlete to speak to us about making the 2015 IAAF World Youth Championships Team. Members of the team will compete in Colombia, from July 15th to 19th 2015.
How did you get involved in Athletics?
My sisters and I started Little Athletics at Brighton when I was in under 8’s. Mum was a 400m hurdler and Dad also has a huge passion for cricket and footy, so they thought we might enjoy it. I quickly learnt that I certainly couldn’t jump, throw or sprint due to my extremely slow twitch fibers, so long distance racewalking and running were far more enjoyable. Whilst it was very normal for everyone to see the walk as a social occasion, as I did, one day whilst prancing around the track with my friend Ella, her dad yelled out some encouragement that ‘It’s not just a stroll, it’s actually a race!’. A thought came to mind…perhaps I should give this walking thing a go…and off I went. My grandma is adamant that it is the genetic ‘hyper-flexible-hips’ and her excellent endurance that gave me a natural ability in racewalking; she may have a point there. Nonetheless I really enjoyed it, found myself a coach and a pair of runners and then made the natural progression through little aths and seniors to be where I am now with an excellent coach, Simon Baker and supportive training squad.
When you first heard that you made the team, what was your initial reaction?
I was extremely excited and overwhelmed with relief because the trials in Sydney earlier in the year didn’t go exactly to plan. The nerves were high which took its toll on my sleep and hydration in the days prior, so during the race I began loosing my awareness and weaving around the track. Afterwards, in the first aid room when I figured out what was going on, I was sure that I wouldn’t be able to go to Colombia. I had no idea what place or time I had finished with, or how many reports I had received. It felt as if the months of hard work leading up to the championship had led to disappointment. However, I had managed to remain in second place with a safe technique and surely enough when I received the phone call whilst at school, there was some severe jumping up and down going on. I made it my mission to focus and train extremely well in the 4 months that I had between that day and Colombia, and it has definitely been an exciting time.
Are you doing anything differently in preparation for this competition?
It has been a huge lead up physically and mentally. I’ve been really focusing on achieving balance throughout my weekly load by breaking up training with boxing, gym, pilates, yoga, meditation, running and racewalking. I find that this is beneficial for injury prevention and it just makes every training session interesting and different. It has been really great to have another member of our training squad, Kyle Swan also training for the World Youth Championships 10km walk as we have been able to challenge and support each other through the tough sessions. In recent weeks, as the climate over in Cali will be approximately 30 degrees with 75% humidity, we have been heating our spare room at home to this temperature with a humidifier on and with 3 long sleeves and leggings, doing training sessions on the treadmill to get used to being nice and hot. Being able to feel what it’s going to be like over there has been really helpful and something that I hope will benefit the acclimatization procedures.
What are you most looking forward to about the trip to Colombia?
I’m really looking forward to wearing my Australian uniform with pride and making all of the people who have been so supportive of me in the past few months proud. I can’t wait to cheer on my fellow Aussie team mates in all of their events and also hopefully meet some athletes from abroad! I’ve got some little kangaroos and koalas to hand around to international athletes as a catalyst to friend making.
Who has been your biggest inspiration in this sport?
Cathy Freeman is certainly my biggest inspiration in athletics, although I have many heroes in everyday life. I believe that heroes can be ordinary people that show certain characteristics of bravery and the pursuit of a dream that means a lot to them. I admire Cathy for her ability to persevere towards her aspirations whilst growing up in a childhood that was perhaps not as well off as many others. She didn’t let anything effect her passion and determination the be the best in the world, whilst also being so proud of her Aboriginal Australian heritage. I think that she is such a great role model for all athletes as the true embodiment of sportsmanship, talent and passion.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to become a professional Athlete?
Keep your week balanced, make sure you break it up a bit with lots of strength, cross training and remember that not every session has to be a killer! It is important to have easier sessions to let your body recover. Make sure your core and glutes are really strong for stability and injury prevention. And above all, surround yourself with a positive, supportive network of friends, family and coaches in order to create an atmosphere that you will be excited to go to each and every day. Live in the moment and take every opportunity that comes to you. Remember why you started and the feeling of getting a personal best. Go for it!
‘Do what you love, love what you do.’