Athletics: Five minutes with Angie Petty

Angie Petty poses for a portrait after being named in the New Zealand Olympic Team. Photo / Getty Images
Angie Petty poses for a portrait after being named in the New Zealand Olympic Team. Photo / Getty Images

In the start of a new series we ask the questions to the New Zealand 800m number one and 2015 World University Games champion who appeared for her country at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August.

Why and how did you start in the sport of athletics?

I enjoyed the sport from when I first started at school. I joined the Papanui Toc H club aged eight and when we later moved from Christchurch as a family, I joined North Canterbury Athletics Club as a ten-year-old. That was when I started competing for the first time in Saturday athletics, although back then I only trained a few times a week.

What was your first significant win?

The first big one was competing at the Colgate Games aged 13. I remember travelling up to Auckland with my dad to North Island Colgate Games, where I think I was one of only two athletes competing from the South Island! I went on to win the 400m, 800m and 1500m and then the next week in Timaru I completed the same treble at the South Island Colgate Games.

It was my first thrill of winning big competitions with athletes from around the country.

What was your first major setback?

Aged 14 I won the 800m competing at the Pacific School Games in Melbourne. It was my first time competing for New Zealand and I took four seconds from my PB to run 2:10. I went into the next year with big expectations, but I went through puberty and had an off year, where I struggled to run much quicker than 2:18. Thankfully for the end of that year I won New Zealand Secondary Schools and I managed to improved again the following season.

Best piece of coaching advice?

It would be to not push too hard, if I feel a niggle. It is better to have a day off training by doing cross training or only stretching than push running in those circumstances. It is much better to skip a day than make the problem worse.

What qualities do think every athlete needs to succeed?

I would say determination, commitment and perseverance but patience is also very important. I recall that earlier example of when I was 15 when I showed patience. I didn't run very well that year but managed to come through the next year. More recently, I hit two flat for the 800m for the first time in 2012, but it took until last year (2015) to finally break two minutes. When those breakthroughs come it is even more rewarding.

What are the most important things you have learned from your time in the sport?

Not to get too wound up by athletics and take time out to enjoy the sport. It is okay to have a bad race. It is important to remember it is only one race and it will make you stronger. It is also important to learn to remember I run because I love to.

What is the best thing about being an athlete?

To appreciate not only the good races but also the good training sessions. I also love the travel which comes with being an athlete and also the amazing people I've met in our sport. Probably half the people I've met in my life has been through running, and that is how I met my husband too!

If you could have a superpower what would it be and why?

I would say to fly. It would be amazing to fly like a bird and travel anywhere.

What is your hidden talent?

I enjoyed debating at school. I remember once having to debate that Christmas is only for children, which obviously isn't true, but I enjoyed debating it.

What would be your last meal?

Probably a good gluten-free pizza or a chicken, avocado and pesto salad.

What is your karaoke song?

The Lion King or 'A Sky Full of Stars' by Coldplay. The other one I would pick is 'All of Me' by John Legend - which is the song we chose for the first dance at our wedding.

What is your greatest indulgence?

I have a really sweet tooth so it is a tough one. Maybe, Ambrosia dessert or chocolate or maybe a good English cream tea, but done the proper way with clotted cream.

If you could have three dinner party guests, who would they be and why?

I would say Jesus, Eric Liddell of 'Chariots of Fire' fame and Celine Dion. I would pick Jesus because he is the son of God and just to be in his presence and hang out would be amazing. Eric Liddell for what he stood for and the amazing athlete he was and Celine Dion for the entertainment. In the start of a new series we ask the questions to the New Zealand 800m number one and 2015 World University Games champion who appeared for her country at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August.

- NZ Herald

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