23 August, 2017

Quotes from the media conference

Media conference with international top athletes on the day before the Diamond League Final in Zurich.



Christoph Joho (Meeting Co-Director): 

Res Brügger developed the meeting, the sponsoring, the marketing; he is Mr Weltklasse Zürich. 

Every buck we earn, we reinvest in Swiss athletes. 

Tonight at 6.30 p.m. we will feature the women’s pole vault in Zurich main station. It's street athletics at its best. At the train station, probably the busiest place in Switzerland, we bring together people, who normally wouldn't watch athletics. 

A few years ago we started with shot put at the main station. We were able to let the athletes compete close to the audience. Last year we had the women’s pole vault for the first time, and this year Swiss television will broadcast the event during two hours. 

The mindset changed. In the past, Swiss athletes were happy just to participate in championships. Now, they want to win; It's a hungry, young generation. 

The crowd is special, which is not at given. It is a full-time job to sell tickets. We really focus on the Swiss athletics family. We invite athletes and their families to buy tickets prior to the normal selling process. We try not to rely on event hoppers, it's simply too risky. It is better to rely on those who will also show up, if the likes of Mo Farah or Usain Bolt do not. 

But we also do a lot with one of our main sponsors, UBS. They provide the Swiss Corner, for example, where fans can come together, get discounts on snacks and just enjoy the meeting together with like-minded fans. 

Andreas Hediger (Meeting Co-Director): 

The new format of the Diamond League brought change for us. I have to make sure that qualified athletes show up. In a way it was the same procedure as ever year. Plus, I think it’s an easier story to tell now, because whoever wins Weltklasse Zürich, wins the Diamond League overall. But then again, we can no longer invite whoever we like our meet anymore. So there are pros and cons to the new format of the Diamond League. 

The new Swiss athletics movement started with the 2014 European Championships. Among staff, athletes, and coaches, they changed a lot. Now we can make the best out of this situation. Also, UBS Kids Cup has helped developing young athletes. We now have 150,000 participants in this grassroot programme, a backbone of Swiss athletics. It promotes success in elite competitions later on and also at major junior championships.

Johannes Vetter: 

The German javelin throwers have had some good years, our development has continued and we've pushed each other over the years. 

It was an incredible competition in Lucerne. I was in a really good shape, it was two days after the German championships. I felt that things were going well, my first throw was a new PB. The head to head with Thomas is at 7:7 right now. I have three competitions left, Thomas two. We'll see after ISTAF who wins in the end. 

Everyone saw the amazing crowd in London, it's definitely going to be a bit more special in Berlin. There are more German javelin throwers and next year, we’ll have the European Championships there. 

I normally don't fall after my throws during training but it depends. If I'm really fast in my run up, it's easier to just fall to the ground at the competition. 

Thomas Röhler: 

We’ve ruled javelin for three years now, and it’s just great fun to have such a good German team. In javelin, it’s important not to want to win too badly to let throws go far. It will be a challenge to keep this kind of mindset going in the next few years. The crowd is always important to us. To have some kind of rhythm going with your throws always helps. I will not ever give any predictions before a competition as to how far we are going to throw. In javelin, it’s always difficult to understand what’s going on, even for the athletes. It always depends on many factors: weather, crowd, opponents.

Elaine Thomson: 

There was no pressure in the final; sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Track and field can be like life. 

I'm not sure if I'll compete at the Commonwealth Games, they're in April already. That might be a bit too early. 

There's nothing to prove for me, I’ll just have fun tomorrow. 

Dafne Schippers: 

I was relaxed about the 200m at the world championships because of my bronze medal in the 100m. But in finals, everything is always possible, it’s never easy. To do a championship double is difficult because you go into the second event with a tired body. But it’s also a mind thing and you have to have the right attitude. My favourite is probably the 200m, but sometimes I hate it also. All these great athletes at the Diamond League final at Weltklasse Zürich make it fun to compete.  

Shaunae Miller-Uibo: 

In London, I thought I had it under control in the 400m. But then I tripped a little bit, lost balance, and the race. But these situations are part of track and field, and now I’ve moved on. I’m definitely looking forward to the 200m and did some speed work in the lead up to it, like the 100m in Birmingham. Especially with all these great athletes it should be fun. My favourite event definitely stays the 400m, because it gives me a challenge. 

Karsten Warholm: 

Becoming a world champion was a shock and a surprise at the same time. Before stepping on to the track in the final, I thought I didn’t really know how to win. I was just going to go out there and give my best. When you win such a big race, you think of the people that helped you get there. I am never afraid to lose; it’s not a good attitude. Because as the expectations get higher, it’s important to have this mindset. People in Norway know me better now. This is tiring but also good because, we don’t get that many gold medals in our country. The 400m hurdles is a very open event now, which is good for the audience. We are here to entertain. Tomorrow, I am going to try to be the rabbit in this race, to go out hard. Our maybe I’ll be the wolf and hunt the guys down. I will see.  

Sally Pearson: 

It’s pretty amazing to be on top again. I like winning and that’s why I'm here. 

It’s good to think you can't lose. For me, I knew how to get back into shape. I had a hard time after all those injuries and knew that I could be the best again if I just kept my focus. 

I have thought about doubling (100/100h) at the Commonwealth Games. But I haven't decided yet, most likely I won’t. 

For the past year, I've been coaching myself, so that makes me really proud, especially after going through four injuries in 12 months. 

The reason I became my own coach was because I had three coaches in the past, had the injuries and thought, something's not right. I enjoyed every moment of it, even though I didn't know whether I could do it by myself. But I'm looking forward to going home again and start preparation for next season. 

I'm feeling really good. I've had a few good hurdle sessions since London, and there's no reason not to think I could win tomorrow. 

Emma Coburn: 

Being a world champion feels really good. I did not expect it. I thought I might get third or even fourth or fifth.

I'm very much enjoying this moment. 

The very first time I tried steeplechase I really liked it, it worked and just clicked. I used to play basketball, ski, snowboard, play hockey, also high jump. So that prepared me for the steeple in many kind of ways. 

The nine-minute barrier was almost unheard of before Rio 2016. It felt like a very distant goal, but nowadays it feels very real, and it's just a mental barrier. But it helps to have opponents who run faster. I feel really at home in the steeple races. Not so much in the flat races, but I'm trying to get more leg speed in the next year. 

I think the US/Kenya rivalry will continue, definitely. There are about nine Kenya-born athletes starting tomorrow. It's a great dynamic and it's been good that the Kenyans have pushed the barrier below those nine minutes. 

I think I have a chance at winning. The Kenyans are headed in front of me for tomorrow’s race but I feel really good. 

Sam Kendricks: 

I had great jumpers to follow. It was hard to lose in the past. Zurich, this is my championship. It was a great meet last year with Renaud, so it should be a great one tomorrow. 

I want great competitors to jump with me, they make me better. 

In years past, it was so hard to say, I'm going to beat him (Renaud).  

It gives me a little more leeway and puts us on the same competitive level after the world championships.

Renaud Lavillenie: 

My season has been hard so far because I was injured in the winter. I had to take a lot of care of my legs. I was happy even to take part at the world championships in London. I was even more happy to take home a medal, especially with the birth of my daughter in July, which brought along sleepless times. When we get to a pole vault competition, we try to have a plan, though it will always turn to be different.

Mutaz Essa Barshim: 

In Birmingham, I knew I was in good shape, but I was tired from world championships. My coach told me, I am in good shape, but not until the competition started, something clicked in my head and I finally found my rhythm. The world record is a target of mine. I was close to it a few years ago, but had some injuries, and it took me two and a half years to get back to this level. Now I think, it is a matter of time. But I need good competition for that. Maybe tomorrow, I can go higher than in Birmingham last week. The weather will be good, the crowd also. The atmosphere among the high jumpers is changing. We take rivalry differently than other generations years ago. To me, my rival is the bar, not the other athletes. We are like family, and I am happy for the guys when they clear the bar.  

Mo Farah:

The 10k at world champs was probably one of the hardest races I've ever run. I was getting pushed during the race, but it was a great memory and hopefully I can look back in the race in the future.I was suprised how much that 10k took out of me, coming out of it, I did look tired in the 5k. I was beaten up.

The best shape of my life was probably in 2013 when I ran in the Moscow world championships and 12:53 for 5000 m in Monaco. Maybe I could have run 12:45, 12:46 in the right race that year. 

In the future I want to do road and see how that goes, see what my body can do. I'm not sure where my first road race will be. You have Boston, New York, London or Berlin, there are a lot of big marathons. I just want to enjoy running a marathon, I can maybe run 2:05:00 or 2:04:00.

It is going to be a tough race to finish with tomorrow. But it’s going to be nice. I’m not the favourite going into it, which is nice, isn’t it? I don’t want to think about it that it’s my last race. I am excited, the crowd will be great.

Opportunities don’t come often and you have to make the best of it. We will see one more time tomorrow and then it's chill out time.