World heptathlon bronze medallist Anouk Vetter has enjoyed a memorable competitive year. Here the rising Dutch combined events talent reflects on a breakthrough performance back in 2014 which helped pave the way for her future success.
“I always knew I had talent, but injuries kept getting in the way. I didn’t even finish a championship heptathlon as an age-group athlete (she DNF at the 2011 European Juniors, 2012 World Juniors and 2013 European Under-23s). My dad (Ronald Vetter) started coaching me in late 2012 and it was then I started to carry exercises to develop the little muscles. In some ways, the big weight sessions are easy but it was the little exercises which made me stronger.
“My dad was also careful not to overtrain me. I rested every Saturday and Sunday. I trained only four days a week. It was crazy. I hated not training harder. I looked at the other girls in the group and I wanted to do what they were doing. Sometimes I didn’t sprint for two weeks, but I knew that I needed to do that to ensure I would be healthy.
“In 2014 I travelled to Gotzis to compete. I remember going there to watch in 2012 and it was always a dream of mine to compete there. I was so nervous but I ran 13.56 (Vetter’s previous best was 13.83) and the whole crowd were cheering because it was the very first heat. I then set big PBs in the shot and 200m – it was totally amazing.
“Day two went just as well and I ended up scoring 6316 to place ninth. It was a massive PB because my previous best was 5872. I was really happy because every young heptathlete’s dream is to score 6000 points.
“Gotzis was really special. It is always fantastic to compete there because the crowd is so close to the track. I came home and my mum made me a big chocolate pie in celebration. On the back of this performance I was on the way to my first senior championship (the European Championships in Zurich), which was really cool.
“Gotzis was so significant for me because it was the moment I showed people I was not just a girl with talent but one who could deliver. It was sometimes really hard to keep going during my junior years and watching other athletes stand on the podium. Yet my career experiences make me really appreciate the times when I am healthy and able to compete. “
Steve Landells for the IAAF