Tuesday, August 5, 2008

PreraceJitters Exclusive Interview with Brianna Glenn: Surviving The Game

The memories of the U.S. Olympic Trials are etched in Brianna Glenn’s mind. Her Olympic dreams died in Eugene at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

In the end, it was not in the cards. Brianna Glenn could not get everything to come together in the long jump finals, but ended up in 11th place with 20 feet, 6 1/4 inches when the competition ended. She fouled on her final two jumps.

Afterwards, in the athlete interview area, a tear rolled down Brianna’s cheek. She finally got out, “You don’t plan for this.”

Less than two months before the U.S Olympic Trials, she had surgery to repair a recurring knee injury, and then everything fell apart. An injury is a long jumpers’ nightmare and it definitely was not in her plan to compete in the Olympic Games. No run at making the Olympic team is supposed to be battled this way.

You won’t hear Brianna offering up any excuses or pointing to any specific reasons for not placing top three at the Olympic trials. Even though she would be well within her rights to do that but she didn't. She gathered herself together as quickly as possible and arrived at the trials ready to compete. Because win, lose, or draw - she is a competitor.

Just after the gut-wrenching experience of failing to achieve her life-long goal of going to the Olympics, Brianna gracefully agreed to sit down at the Hilton hotel in downtown Eugene for an interview.

In the hotel lobby, Brianna's eyes betrayed her. They typically dance with expectation and possibility. Much has been written about Brianna's fun-loving attitude, her fabulous sense of humor, her victorious nature. Brianna does little to dispel that image, but her light hazel-brown eyes hinted at something else altogether. Something much more vulnerable.

Her window of her career hasn’t yet closed, and the question before her is whether to stay in the sport, or retire from the sport that she loves so much.

Here is what Brianna Glenn had to say:

PRJ: Share with us the experience of participating in the third Olympic Trials of your professional career.

BG: I was not as nervous this time around. This time, I was able to take this experience for what it is and put aside the hype involved. The first time I came to the Olympic Trials, I was wide-eyed and just so darn excited to be there. I was competing with people that I had looked up to for so many years. That feeling subsides after you’ve done it a few times.

PRJ: What was your mindset coming into the ’08 Olympic Trials?

BG: I was definitely confident coming into the trials. I was really excited because we wait every four years for this opportunity. It’s a culmination of all the work you’ve put in up to this point. Now, you actually get to get out there and show your stuff. It’s an exciting time, I think, for most athletes once you actually get to the trials. All of that hard work is finally about to pay off.

PRJ: Talk about your disappointment in not making the Olympic Team.

BG: My performance is disappointing. It was hard for me, because I really had a tough year. More than anything, I wanted to come in here and do my best. I just felt like if I competed to the best of my abilities that I would have a shot to make the team. That did not happen. You know the circumstances I was in, so I have to take it for what it is, learn from it, and just move on. I’m just trying to do that the best that I can.

PRJ: Talk about your abilities to not just overcome obstacles and disappointments, but to thrive on the field and in your personal life.

BG: Ultimately, you have to have a strong sense of self, especially in this sport. You go through ups and downs, and nothing is always up. If you are not mentally prepared, then you will not be in the right position to experience the high points. You also have to learn to bounce back and how to have a short-term memory, because every athlete experiences losses.

PRJ: What was it like having your friends and family here at the Olympic Trials to support you?

BG: It was important. It’s great to be here with people that support you. I have the best friends and family in the world, in my humble opinion. They love me unconditionally. They know who I am as an athlete, but more importantly, they know who I am as a person.

PRJ: You’ve been to two other Olympic Trials, what is your opinion of Eugene ’08?

BG: They have done a wonderful job putting on a big show here in Eugene – ‘Tracktown, USA’. They have a track mentality here to support the sport. It’s great how they organized the meet. Overall, it’s good for the athletes and the sport. When you come to Eugene, the fans support every event, not just the premiere events.

PRJ: What, if any, affect did the fans have on the performances?

BG: They gave off great energy. They are behind you, clapping you down the runway. It’s not like, ‘Oh, there is my mom, I can hear her clapping.’ It was a positive experience here, because the fans cheer in the first place and the last place finishers.

PRJ: What do you have to look forward to the rest of the ’08 season and the ’09 season?

BG: We’re still trying to figure that out now. Things are up in the air, because I have to reorganize things. It will be something that I go over with my coach and my agent in the next several weeks. You can always read about it on my blog.

PRJ: Let’s digress for a moment and discuss your blog. It’s considered one of the most popular track and field athlete blogs on the net. What do you think is behind that success and the out-pouring of support from the fans?

BG: I don’t know where the traffic is coming from. What I like is that people from different backgrounds read my blog, both track fans and non-track fans alike. But they found my blog somehow and are currently interested in the sport, and that is great.

My blog has taken on a life of its own. Now, I feel responsible to keep updating it with what is going on in my life and career because my fans have taken the time to read my blog.

PRJ: What are your thoughts on your life after track and field?

BG: It’s hard to know for sure, because most athletes know their sport. I have my college degree in marketing, so I believe it will be something along those lines. I love sports and would like to do something in sports marketing.

PRJ: It’s been a rough 18 months or so for the sport. Have the Olympic Trials been good for track and field?

BG: It was a great Olympic Trials. Being out there for the last seven days, you have so many people with dreams in their eyes. Hopefully, that dream will shine through, and people will stop focusing on the negative. I just really appreciate our sport and what it has to offer.

PRJ: Brianna, thank you so very much for taking the time, and we wish you the best.

All content and photographs by Jay Hicks.

Seed Runnerspace

1 comment:

  1. Great post Jay! Exceptional way to cover those who did, and those who "did not" make the squad. There's no doubt in my mind Brianna will successful in life regardless...