Q&A with track and field star Amalie Iuel

Last week, Amalie Iuel, a junior on the track and field team, spoke to the Daily Trojan in a one-on-one interview, where she gave insight into her life as an international student athlete, what her future goals are and more.

The junior heptathlete is having an amazing season so far. She set a Norwegian record for the women’s indoor 400m race at the New Mexico Classic, scored the most points by any college athlete in the heptathlon this season at the Sam Adams Combined Events Invitational and has consistently achieved personal records throughout the season.

Daily Trojan: Rumor is that you are trying to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Is this true? Would it be as a heptathlete?

Amalie Iuel: This is true. I would be competing for Norway. I haven’t quite decided whether I want to compete for the hurdles or for the heptathlon. Obviously, I have to hit the standards first and then make the choice. But, as of now, I think I have a better shot at the hurdles.

DT: Was being a heptathlete always the goal?

AI: Yeah I think it was always a big dream of mine. Carolina Klüft, she’s a Swedish heptathlete who was always my idol. I loved her. And, I always liked doing multiple events. I could never stick with one; it was way too boring.

DT: As a heptathlete, how do you have time to practice all of the events?

AI: I come in for the main sprint practices on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and then Saturday, if we don’t have a meet. Then, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I’ll do the jumping events and the throws. Sometimes I’ll have to split up my practices, come in the morning, then come back later on and do some throws and some jumps

DT: Do you feel like some of your events suffer because of how much you have to practice?

AI: Yes. I feel like I lack points in the throwing events … Especially since I don’t look like a thrower as you can see [flexes]. I feel like I don’t get to throw as much as I’d like to.

DT: Do you have a favorite event?

AI: It has to be the long jump. There’s no rush with anything. You don’t have to go off of a gun. You don’t have to worry about knocking a bar over. You go at your own pace and you just jump.

DT: You are Norwegian, you were born in Denmark, you went to high school in Bangkok, and now you’re in L.A. for college. Is there somewhere you’d like to live permanently later on in life?

AI: I love L.A. I could definitely see myself staying here or going back home [Norway]. It’s a good place to start a family. I think I want to do what I did; I moved around a lot. It allowed me to experience a lot, so if I get a job that allows me to travel, I’d be OK with that.

DT: Are you trying to become a professional athlete? Or will you be looking for a “normal” job once you’re out of college?

AI: I’m looking to go pro. That’d be awesome! If I can’t do it here, I’ll go home and do it. That’s the overall goal. I want to keep running for as long as I can. Then I’ll start looking for a normal job; I’ll have my degree [at USC] as a backup.

DT: You graduated from a high school in Bangkok. What were the biggest differences in training there compared to here?

AI: Ugh … The heat! Bangkok has two seasons: hot and hotter. But you also have a rain season; in the fall it rains a lot, so it gets really, really humid. And with the rain comes the thunder and lightning, so practice gets interrupted a lot. And it’s not the kind of rain you see here. It’s intense! And in the summer time it just gets really, really, really hot.

DT: How are you dealing with living so far away from your parents and siblings?

AI: They live in Norway right now, but they’re moving to Dubai, where I also used to live a couple years ago. It sucks. I miss my family so much. I come from a big family: I have four siblings, so there’s seven of us in total. There’s always something going on. So I miss them a whole bunch.


DT: What motivates you to train and compete?

AI: I’m very competitive. I don’t like getting beat. Even like the smallest things, I take way too seriously. I always feel the need to be the best, even though it takes a long, long while to get there. But that’s my main goal, to hopefully win a medal someday.

DT: When did you know that competing in track and field is what you wanted to do?

AI: My parents threw me into it. I treated everything like a competition. They must have thought I was really annoying because of all of my energy.

I remember one time, I think I was 7, [my younger cousin] was 4, and I was like “Let’s race!” and I would beat her by a whole lot. I didn’t go easy on her like you typically would. No, I would go all out and I would stand there be like “Ha-ha! You lost!” So it was terrible. My parents were like, “You can’t keep doing this!” So, they put me in track and field. And I loved it, because I got to do what I love doing: competing and racing.

DT: What’s the most important thing your coaches have taught you — about life or about track and field?

AI: That you can achieve whatever you put your mind to.

DT: How did you celebrate breaking a Norwegian record?

AI: We went out to a barbecue place right after. I was choosing between one pound of ribs and two pounds, and everyone was saying, “No, no, no! You’re not gonna be able to finish!” So, me and couple of the guys [each] got the two pounds. And I slayed them. I mean, they had nothing on me.

DT: You play guitar and sing; what is your favorite song to cover?

AI: I like “Riptide” [by Vance Joy]. I like playing that; it’s a fun song to cover. I don’t get to do it as much anymore because I really don’t have much time on my hands.

DT: What is your favorite song to listen to (or band, or genre)?

AI: Favorite artist: Kygo. I need him to calm me down before a race.

DT: Favorite movie?

AI: Inception.

DT: Favorite meal?

AI: Sushi! Or like a medium-rare rib-eye steak! Very different but both so delicious! I’m not very picky with my food, but I’m a food lover.

DT: How do you relax?

AI: Netflix. Hulu. HBO GO.

DT: What is your dream vacation?

AI: I need to go to Australia. I always wanted to go. Or New Zealand, Peru. I don’t have one. I want to go everywhere. I want to explore.

DT: Describe Coach Caryl [Smith Gilbert] in a word?

AI: Intense.