Ahead of the 2013 World Athletics Gala, 17-year-old World 1500m finalist Mary Cain spoke to the press about her past season and her goals for next year.
“It was definitely a hard decision to turn professional. Over the summer I didn’t really think too much about it because at the time I was focused on running. But come the fall when my friends were freaking out about college, I was only looking at a few schools and narrowed it down to the University of Oregon. Having a great choice made me more excited and I knew it would be a great opportunity. Some people might say that I won’t have as much fun by turning pro early, but I’ve had such an amazing year. I was looking at both options and both were great, but I wanted to continue what I’ve been doing and I felt that the next step was to go pro.
“We talked to lot of people but really it was my family and I who made this choice. My plan is to be in Portland because I love the group I’m with.
“I look to people like Allyson and Sanya as role models because they turned pro after high school and went on to have great careers. At the same time though, I’m a different person; I’m Mary, not Allyson, and my career will have a different path. I want to have fun in this sport. With the team I’ve got around me, I know that my future is going to be fun.
“Next year hopefully I’ll follow a pretty similar path to this year. This indoor season will be a testing opportunity for me. I’m excited to run indoors and finally get to race. The 2013 season has only just finished but it already feels like a long time.
“I’m definitely aiming to compete at the World Indoors. Potentially the World Juniors too, but we’ll see how I’m running by then. I’m just excited to have an off year when I really just get to explore circuit and get into insanely fast races and see what I can do.
“Looking back to Moscow, I think to myself ‘I was there? How is that?’ One year ago today I was just starting with Alberto. I’ve always been a crazy kid who thought ‘I can do that’, I’ve always believed in myself. The best thing about the World Championships was the whole team USA atmosphere. There was no split between the different events, we were all one team.
“I think I have to be a lot more competitive next year than I was this year. This summer if people elbowed me, I would just go to the back. In the heats in Moscow I was right at the back. I look back and I’m really glad that I made those mistakes, so going forward I’ll never do that again. Next year I know I can’t be the 17-year-old who’s at the back. I’ve got to be able to stay in that pack.
“I wouldn’t say I had a lack of confidence this year; it was more a lack of understanding. I didn’t know I could run 4:04 until I ran 4:04. Each year hopefully I’ll gain more confidence and I won’t be that person at the back of the pack.
“When I was a seventh grader I looked up to Jordan Hasay. I’ve also always looked up to Mary Decker. My mom was the first person who put that connection in my mind and in eighth grade I’d wear pig tails, trying to channel Mary.
“To be honest I’m still kind of new with the track world. I’m still a bit of a baby walking among some great athletes.
“I grew up as a swimmer and I watched the Athens and Beijing Games thinking that maybe one day I’d make it to the Olympics as a swimmer. London 2012 was the first Olympics I watched where I thought that I’d be there in future as a runner.
“In future I’ll probably stick with my current range of events. I may still run the 800m or 5000m, but for me when it comes to tactics, the 1500m is the perfect distance. In the 800m if you make one mistake, it’s a lot harder. The 1500m is also a bit easier on the body to train for.
“I love reading. I’m also very competitive so I approach academics quite intensively too. But I’m just a normal kid who likes to hang out with my friends. I stay off most running sites. I’m kind of a dinosaur. I don’t have twitter or an iPhone.
“I’m lucky to have very supportive teachers. For the most part they are very understanding and they’re excited to see what I can do. For everyone – including myself – the whole thing is still quite weird.”
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF