Powell River track and field athlete Calli-Ann Abbott set personal records in long jump, javelin and 800 metre competitions last week at the Big West Multi-Events Championship held in Santa Barbara, California.She secured the bronze medal in heptathlon for the women’s track and field team at University of Hawaii, where she recently completed her junior year.
“It was pretty exciting,” said Abbott. “I wasn’t expecting to get [personal records] in every event.”
Abbott placed first in the javelin with a distance of 39.58 metres, earning her 659 points and a personal record by over a foot. Abbott’s 5,258 points at the championship event represent the second-best heptathlon score in University of Hawaii history. It is something Abbott has been steadily working toward during her time at the school.
As a freshman, she finished seventh in the heptathlon at the Big West competition with 4,650 points, and in her sophomore year she placed fifth with 4,833 points. The accomplishment was even more surprising, she said, as it was the only heptathlon she competed in this year.
“I got a concussion in the beginning of March so I couldn’t go to the other competition we were supposed to go to,” she added.
The 2016 Brooks Secondary School graduate was coached in Powell River by former Olympic heptathlete Connie Polman Tuin, who said Abbott’s performance, particularly in the 800 metres, was gratifying.
“The 800 metres was such a struggle for her,” said Polman Tuin. “I couldn't get her to break psychologically through on that event, so her big breakthrough is a huge accomplishment for her.”
It was Abbott’s final event in the competition last week, and she posted a time of 2:32.41, nearly 11 seconds faster than her previous career best.
Abbott attributes the improvement to a change in her mindset and training strategy.
“I just had more confidence going into the race than I ever had before,” she said. “My coach really helped me gain a lot more confidence with my running this year. Every time we did running we ran with the 400 metre runners. They do a lot of faster paced stuff so I had to try and stay with them as much as I could in practice.”
Another aspect of the competition that helped was encouragement from the other athletes.
“The group of girls I was [competing against], a lot of us have been together since we were freshman and we all support each other. Every time one of us was up, made a good jump or made the height we’d all cheer for them,” said Abbott. “My mom asked me what I was thinking about [during the competition] and I said ‘I wasn’t, I was just too busy having fun.’”