It’s a busy life being an Olympic hurdler, as Kyle Vander-Kuyp well knows. He’s just returned from a tour of the Northern Territory and West Australia, visiting schools in Darwin, Kununurra, Broome, Karratha and Perth.
Kyle was the special guest at loads of schools conducting talks to young Aboriginal people on sport; running special athletic workshops and we understand, also doing a bit of DJing school discos. What a true champion and role model to us all.
Deadly Vibe caught up with Kyle on his return to Melbourne.
So Kyle, how was the trip to all those schools?
Very, very successful, there is so much talent out there in Aboriginal communities across Australia. I would run an hour-long workshop on hurdling. All the kids were picking it up straight away. In fact, I feel there is a lot of talent going to waste, but it’s so hard without coaches and without proper sporting facilities.
When I was starting out it was always possible to go and train with the Little Athletics and jump on a train and run on an athletics track.
Have you always been into athletics or did you start out in another sport?
Always athletics, starting with Little Athletics when I was really young. I have always been very devoted to athletics, and was lucky to have the natural ability to run and hurdle.
I tried football for a while but it didn’t take me long to go back to athletics.
I hear you have a very hectic schedule coming up. What are your next big competitions?
Well the big competition is the World Athletic Championships in Athens in August. I will be heading off in early May to compete in Japan, and then in late May off to America to do a block of serious training and get used to the climate.
I will be the travelling to Europe in early June and then on to Athens in August.
You must get nervous.
Of course, very nervous. Imagine being in a stadium like at the Olympics with 80,000 people watching you. Not to mention all the people watching on television. There are cameras everywhere in your face, It’s very frightening.
It’s not just nerves though it’s excitement and other strong emotions as well. All your energies and all your training is focused on about three races and each one goes for about 13 seconds, It’s very emotional.
But I have made a commitment to athletics, it’s my life and it’s what I want to do.
What makes a champion Kyle?
Natural talent and a lot of hard work. Of course you have to have the natural talent but just as important is your drive and motivation. I love doing it, It’s not hard for me. I am always wanting to be the best that I can be. I am after that perfect race.
What does your training consist of?
When I’m training I train six days a week two to three hours a day. Three weight work outs and three on the track.
A lot of my training is technical. I do a lot of drills, over short distances and longer ones. Hurdling is a really unnatural rhythm; it’s like shuffling.
And what about those caps? I bet they’re a real favourite with young kids.
I collect caps and have a lot of them. The black cap is my favourite because it fits so well. I wear it almost always during practice and training and my young fans are so wonderful especially after the Olympic games in Atlanta. These American athletes came out here and were blown away. We were doing a victory lap and looked up in the stands and saw the crowd holding up cards which spelt out IN HYPE WITH VANDER-KUYP and then the big Nike Whoosh.
I was blown away, it was such a great feeling. To thank them I did a dance for them and waved, it was great.
Deadly Vibe congratulates Kyle on all his success to date and we offer our support for your future – you’re a true champion and a fine Ambassador for your sport and us all.