European 100m hurdles champion and world silver medallist Cindy Roleder is among the elite in her event. But as the German explains, it took the disappointment of missing out on qualification for the 2013 IAAF World Championships and a radical change to her training programme to set her on the road to success.
To improve as a hurdler, taking on a heptathlete's training regimen
“I realised change needed to come after not qualifying for the World Championship in Moscow. I had been improving but in 2013 I started to stagnate, and I decided in order to improve to a world-class level I should start to train for the heptathlon.
“I think a lot of people were very cynical at the decision and questioned why I would improve in the hurdles by training for the heptathlon. I am not the best high jumper or thrower but I felt that my general preparation as a heptathlete helped build an excellent fitness base for the long, hard season ahead. Also, there are other examples. Dafne Schippers, the Dutch sprinter, enjoyed her best season in 2015 when she had trained as a heptathlete at the beginning of the season.
“Training for the heptathlon at first was really hard. I gained a lot of muscle and I was exhausted from the training demands. Yet over time from week to week I was able to cope better with the demands. This feeling of working hard was very rewarding and I felt like I was improving as an athlete.
“The greatest challenge was training for events such as the javelin and the 800m as I was not used to running such long distances. Also as the last event in a heptathlon is the 800m, that made it extra demanding.
“I was fortunate to be with a good coach in Wolfgang Kunhe and a great training group in Halle.
“I knew I had made the right decision – by training for heptathlon – when in 2014 I won a bronze medal in the 100m hurdles at the European Championships in Zurich. Since then, I have been able to maintain a high level by winning world 100m hurdles silver in Beijing and last year I won the European title and finished fifth at the Rio Olympics.”
Steve Landells for the IAAF