Taneille Crase is Australia’s champion in the heptathlon and will be competing at the Commonwealth Games this week.
The heptathlon is a 7-event athletic contest for female athletes that consists of the 100-metre hurdles, the high jump, the shot put, the 200-metre dash, the long jump, the javelin throw, and the 800-metre run.
Q: How long’s this journey been in the making?
A: “I’ve actually been doing this sport since I was 8 years old, but along the way I’ve had a lot of setbacks, a lot of injuries, so I’ve taken a couple of breaks from the sport. About two years ago when COVID started, I’ve decided to knuckle down and focus on training, and since then, things have been going pretty well for me.”
Q: What does it mean to represent Australia and your local community at the Commonwealth Games?
A: “It’s a proud honour honestly to be representing Australia. I’ve grown up in Chambers Flat my entire life, so I’m just honoured to be representing them at the international level and it’s nice to know that all the hard work has finally paid off.
Q: What are some of the sacrifices that you’ve had to make along the way? In doing some prep for this interview, I’ve read stories about the number of challenges you’ve faced in your development as an athlete?
A; “I’ve definitely had a lot of challenges. I like to use the word ‘choices’ rather than sacrifices. I’ve made the ‘choice’ to stop working full-time and focus on athletics, but I also study full-time, so that’s the extra-stuff I focus on away from the track. Yes, I’ve had a number of injuries, a lot of surgeries, but like any sportsperson you face a number of setbacks and that’s just part of the journey.”
Q: For people who don’t follow athletics closely, what is the heptathlon?
A: “*laughs* Yeah! A number of people get confused with the Modern Pentathlon which is a separate event with the shooting and the horse-riding. I do heptathlon, which is a track-and-field event. We start off on Day 1 with the 100m hurdles and the high jump, shotput and 200 metres sprint. Then, on Day 2 we finish with long jump, javelin and then the 800 metres. How it works is, for each performance you get a certain number of points, it doesn’t go off placings, and then the person with the most points at the end of all the events is the winner.”
Q: It sounds like a pretty complicated sport to get into! How did you find out you were good at all of these things, and in fact, discover the existence of the sport?
A: “I started with little athletics at Jimboomba when I was 8 years old, and I loved competing in all the events, as you are encouraged to do as a kid. I actually loved high jump, long jump and hurdles, and I focused on more of those events until I was 21, when I transitioned from hurdles to heptathlon, so from one event to seven events! It helps if you’re averagely good at all of the events, because they add up to a good overall performance.”
Q: It definitely also sounds like a multi-faceted sport. What impact has competition had on your body?
A: “I’m not going to lie, there have been a lot of injuries along the way, and every morning, I wake up with aches and pains everywhere before going to training. I’m lucky to have a really good medical team to manage all of the niggles, and get on top of that straight away and we just try to balance the training as best we can. If I am feeling tired, or lethargic during training, we try to ease it off a little so that those niggles don’t turn into something more serious.”
Q: Besides your incredible self, who are the people who have played the greatest support role in your journey as an athlete?
A: “I honestly could not do any of this without my support team. My closest support team are my parents, who have been there since I was 8 years old, my partner Juan who has been on the journey the last two years, and my coach, who is an Olympic Game gold medallist in the heptathlon Glynis Nunn. She’s been there and done that, and understands what it’s like to compete at the highest level as an elite athlete. Having her has been an absolute blessing And then, just all my friends for understanding what I do, and sometimes not being able to go out and have a few drinks, because they understand that training is a priority. “
Q: Let’s talk about Glynis, a legendary Australian athlete. What role does she play?
A: “Besides being an athlete, she’s also an incredible role model. Even though she’s my coach, I can talk to her about anything and everything. If I’m having a really bad day, if I’m stressing about an assignment or had a bad sleep, I can be open and honest with her. She’s made me into the humble athlete that I am today, and has taught me a lot about myself and about the sport.”
Q: Do you get paid?
A: *laughs* huh, I wish! We like to say we do it for the love of the sport. Financial support is not on my side at the moment. No, I’m fully supported by myself, my partner and my parents are funding me at the moment. I do work casually as an athletics coach at a private school in Brisbane, so that pays for my physio and my training and my tracks fees and the like.”
Q: How do you rate your chances at the Games? What is the competition like in the Commonwealth?
A: “At the moment, I’m ranked fourth in the Commonwealth just with my performance in Mackay a couple of months ago. Two of the girls in front of me are from England, so it’s going to be exciting having the home crowd supporting them. There’s a very high chance of a medal, or podium finish but anything can happen in the heptathlon, so I’m just going to enjoy myself and follow the process and we’ll see what happens.”
Q: Once all of the excitement has died down, where can we watch you competing in Australia?
A: Yeah, sure! After the Commonwealth Games, I think I’m going to have a two-week break to let the body re-set, and I’m in my final subjects at uni. When I get back, we’ll have our national championships next year in March-April. Not sure where they will be yet. There will be some local meets, at QSAC where I’ll probably do some hurdles, or high jump or javelin. It’s always free entry to support our local athletes, so come along.
Q: What would you say to girls getting into heptathlon? What do you love about it?
A: I love the challenge of the heptathlon. We always have our strengths and our weaknesses. The camaraderie between the girls is very strong and different compared with the individual events. We all know we’re going through the same thing, and we all go for a lap of victory at the end of a meet. Knowing that you can improve just a little bit in each event and that it will make a massive difference spurs you on.”