Austria’s Ivona Dadic smashed her own national record when taking the European indoor pentathlon silver medal in Belgrade earlier this year. Here the 23-year-old all-round talent fondly recalls that PB-laden performance.
“At the end of the 2016 season (in which Dadic earned European heptathlon bronze and finished 21st at the Olympic Games), I had to change some elements to my coaching environment. Philipp Unfried took the main part of my training and we had to look for someone to help us in shot and javelin. Luckily everything went better than expected and I can say that the changes we made were the best thing that could have happened. I felt much more comfortable than before, and the results also showed that the changes were the right ones. The changes I made were relatively minor, but my body reacted really well to these. The biggest change I made was adopting a seven-step from an eight-step approach to the first hurdle.
“The original plan was to prepare for a good summer season and we would take whatever came during the winter. But as the indoor season approached, we felt things were progressing nicely. I then opened the season with a huge PB in the 60m hurdles (she ran 8.55, taking 0.20 from her previous best) and the other event went much better than expected.
“Following the Austrian Championships (where Dadic posted an Austrian pentathlon record of 4520) I felt my shape get better and better and one week before Belgrade (the European Indoor Championships) I was really ready. I knew if things went well, I could win a medal.
“I started the competition with a 60m hurdles PB (8.45), which is always a nice thing, and then the high jump was just crazy. My high jump coach Inga Babakova (the 1999 world high jump champion from Ukraine) told me many times I am capable of jumping 1.87m. After I cleared 1.81m (which was at the time a PB by one centimetre), I wanted to prove that. And even after later clearing 1.87m, I wanted to jump 1.90m (which she was unsuccessful at).
“I then set indoor PBs in both the shot (13.93m) and long jump (6.41m). Although on paper this looked really good, I know I can do better because the approach in the long jump was far from perfect. The 800m is less a technical and more a physical event, but because I trained hard and I had prepared well, I knew I had nothing to fear. The goal was to run fast and defend my silver medal position, which I did.
“When I crossed the finish line to win my first indoor medal, I knew I had put together a good competition. I had performed well in all five events and to finish in silver behind the Olympic heptathlon champion (Nafi Thiam), is no bad thing!
“Winning European outdoor heptathlon bronze last year was one thing, but winning silver in Belgrade was on another level because both the result and the score I achieved was so much better. Looking back, I was proud of how I performed and it showed to my coach and me that we are on the right track following the decisions we made after the 2016 Rio Olympics.”
Steve Landells for the IAAF