The 2020 Australian Champion for Heptathlon, ranked All time 6th in AUS, and is presently ranked 1st in the Oceania Region

Tori, from Townsville, is presently training in Brisbane for the 2021 Olympics.

Tori West has just competed at her first heptathlon for the 2020/21 season at the Queensland Combined Events Championships. Though not finishing on day 2, she achieved 2 PB in day one which so early in the season, puts her on track for some great results in 2021. Let’s see what she had to say after her events on Sunday.

What was your highlights for the weekend?

The highlight over the weekend was the 200m where I ran a PB of 24.07s. I have been working really hard at getting a PB in this event and my Tokyo Qualification Target is 24.00. Essentially in Multi Events, speed is crucial to success in each of the events. The past couple of season I had lost a bit of confidence in my speed, as my 200m times were not reflecting the hard work I was putting in. So to hit this time and gain my confidence back is an awesome way to open the season.

“There is always opportunity in what seem like a crappy situation” something that you mentioned to your fans over the weekend. What do you mean by this?

In my career, my biggest disappointments have turned into opportunities. Failure is the best teachers. It’s a very hard pill to swallow and it does hurt. But when I put things in perspective and switch my mind, I can see opportunity.

For instance, over the weekend I hurt my elbow. Yes, it sucks but it will heal. In that time it heals, I can divert that training time to another event that needs improvement such as Long Jump. Next, the injury highlights a technical flaw, so we have something to work on and fix. When I fix it, I don’t have pain and also, I throw further.

So it’s a painful process but does ultimately pay off and provide an opportunity to improve.

If you can see the opportunity in a bad situation and shift your attitude, your will truly be unstoppable. It’s a scary thing

Would you be able to talk us through the decison making process that lead to not comepting in the final 2 events over the weekend?

In the javelin, I hurt my elbow in the first throw and the distance was not quite enough to achieve an overall heptathlon PB score. I was tempted to keep pushing and throw again. My elbow was sore but it wasn’t throbbing or swelling, if it were a do-or-die circumstance and this was my last competition to qualify for the Olympics, I could have pushed through. But in reality, this was a state championship, the first competition of the Olympic Qualification period. There was nothing to gain by pushing through. This is a skill that is important for athletes, weighing up risk and perceived potential outcomes.

It’s easy to get stuck in a trap where you feel you have to push through the pain to perform, but if you think deeply most times you do it to prove yourself to others. I felt tempted to push through and prove my fitness and shape coming out of the offseason because there is pressure to perform leading into an Olympic year. But I don’t need to worry about that. I am confident in myself and I have a tremendous team, this circle is the only opinions I care for. I have until June to qualify for the Olympics. Plenty of time.

COVID has allowed you to build a strong base that has rewarded PB’s. What is planned next in training?

I am taking a one-week break, then straight back into training. My coach Eric has given me a fresh program where I will be running with Olympian Caitlin Jones for 4-6 weeks of 400m lactic sessions. I am nervous, but know these sessions will push me to the limit and benefit my 200m & 800m.

With my elbow, I will take 3 weeks off throwing, then gradually build back in. I am lucky that Javelin is a strength and I don’t require a high volume of training to keep my throws in the 50m+ range.

Also, State Champs highlighted some technical work I need to improve on. So training will focus on correcting my form for better consistency in technical events.

Eric Brown, Oceania Combined Event Coach legend. What influences does he have on you when performing in competitions?

He is an incredible coach. Obvisouly he knows how to program, time and time again he peaks athletes when it matters. Evidenced by Cedric and Ash absolutely smashing the Olympic Qualification and Ash, the Australian Record. Also, most of Eric junior athletes did crazy PBs over the weekend as well. He knows his stuff.

During competitions too, Eric is very calm, extremely supportive and never lets you leave a session with your head down. He was able to console me after my Javelin mishap and reassure me that all will be okay.

I feel very privileged to have Eric as a coach

What’s next planned in the competition world, and more importantly for our readers, when are you coming back to North Queensland to compete?

Next competition is Australian Championships in April. This is an important competition and I want to perform well here. Obvisouly, an Olympic Qualifier is the goal but that is not what I focus on day to day. It’s about process and execution.

As for competition in North Queensland, it depends on how Nationals goes. I would love to a training camp in Townsville in May & June. It is by far the best place in Australia to train at that time of year. We shall see how the season plays out.

I would also love to be part of the Festival of Athletics in Townsville. It sounds like a super unique and exciting concept, and I would love to do some individual events

Tori’s present Stats:

100m Hurdles – 13.86s (998points)
High Jump – 1.78m (953points)
Shot Put – 13.53m (763points)
200m – 24.07s (974points)
Long Jump – 5.88m (813points)
Javelin – 53.27m (924points)
800m -2:19.57 (829points)
Heptathlon Highest Score – 6028 Points

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