Fabiana Murer in the pole vault at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Series

First impressions – Fabiana Murer

Fabiana Murer will carry the hopes and expectations of the Brazilian nation at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The 2011 women’s pole vault world champion, and IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 silver medallist, reveals some first things of significance in her life.

First competition

My very first jump in training was with a bamboo pole and I landed in a sand pit, like the pole vaults of the past. My first ever competition was in the long jump, where I placed second in a local club competition. I was aged 16 at the time and I think I jumped about four metres. I remember they put the result in the newspaper.

At the time, I was competing and training in gymnastics and when my gymnastics coach read the article she wasn’t happy and asked why I was competing in another sport. I explained to her I was only training twice a week in athletics and six times a week in gymnastics.

I don’t think she was very happy, but she let me continue to do both. Over time, the athletics quickly became more important. A year-and-a-half later, I finally quit gymnastics to pay full attention to athletics.

First international medal

It was at the South American Junior Championships in Argentina, in what was my second year of competition. I won the gold medal with a South American junior record and I felt very happy. I celebrated and danced a lot.

First fashion disaster

When I was a kid, my hair was very curly but my mother used to cut the front part into a fringe. As you can imagine, a fringe with curly hair is not so nice. I think this was a disaster. I had this haircut from the age of about seven for the next few years until I decided I’d had enough and wanted to change the style.

First thing you ever learned to cook

I think it was rice. After I left the family home, I went to live alone. I didn’t know how to cook very well. I did pick up some knowledge from looking at how my mother cooked and I could read instructions. For a first try, it was not too bad.

First media interview

I think it was after I won the silver medal in my first long jump competition and the story then ran in the newspaper. I remember the interview was not too bad. I was quite a shy person, so I thought it would be more difficult. It is funny but athletics helped make me less shy and more outgoing than when I did gymnastics. 

First toy

It was a doll. It was a bald doll with only one small tuft of hair in the middle of its head. I played with the doll it a lot when I was aged three and four years old. Later I had a Barbie doll and I cut the hair because it was too difficult to brush!

First pet

Growing up, we had a family Doberman dog. It was a female dog. She was sometimes a little angry and not very friendly.

First piece of clothing bought

When I collected my first prize money in gymnastics, I bought a blouse to go to the disco. I was aged about 15. The disco I went to in my home city of Campinas was very famous.

First coach

It is also my husband and coach of today, Elson. I have had the same coach all of my athletics life. He has always been very important and he was the person who first saw my potential as a pole vaulter. 

He himself was a pole vaulter, but he struggled to achieve the results he wanted, so as a coach he was determined to better himself and do everything he could to be a success.  He tried to encourage me to take up a scholarship in the US because he thought it best for my career, but I wanted to stay in Brazil.

He reluctantly agreed and set about trying to learn as much as he could about the pole vault. He is a perfectionist and has been a huge influence on my coaching career.

Steve Landells for the IAAF