2012 - John Nunn Post Olympic Interview

Now that you’ve finished your 2nd Olympic experience, what’s going through your mind about the future?
Originally, I thought the 50km was a fluke and really considered myself just a 20km guy. Similar to a 10K runner stepping up to the marathon, I needed to make a decision whether to remain focused on the20km and take the opportunity the 50km presents. I still want to do 20kms, but I really want to give a strong push to the 50km. With the right training and proper medical care I can have a long career in the 50km.

You mentioned a long career. Do you see yourself training through the 2016 Olympics or beyond?
I will take it four years at a time. I want to be able to say I can do 8 years as I will only be 42, but I need to be realistic and only look 4 years at a time.

What is your goal for the next four years?
The most immediate goal is to get under 4:00 for the 50km. Get the A standard. The ultimate goal is to go as fast as you can go. Hopefully, the low 3:50’s or faster. I have to realize that at some point my age will be a factor.

You are 34 years old now, are you inspired by walkers like Jesus Angel Garcia that came in 3rd at the World Championships when he was 39, so do you think age will really be a factor in the next few years?
Definitely, he was 44 at the Olympics this year. Impressive. As long as you stay in shape no, but if I got out of shape like in 07-08 I might not bounce back.  

You are in rather unique position in that your job is race walking and your employer is the US Army. How has their support enabled you to achieve your goals?
They have been a huge contributor to my success. The backing they have given me has enabled me to maximize my performance. It is a huge factor to know I have the emotional cheering of a couple of million armed services that I represent every time I toe the line.

You have tight bond with your coach Enrique Pena who was the former coach of Olympic Champion Jefferson Perez. Describe your relationship with him and how you work together on a weekly basis.
We have a real close relationship. It’s a large trust factor. He has been my coach for 12 years. Sometimes I say I can do more today, other days I say I can’t do as much. Having such a close bond allows us to communicate without doubt.

So what was different after finishing your second Olympics from your first?
There was a sense of feeling I actually belonged there. After the first one I didn’t know if I belonged there. Now I know I belonged and felt more accomplished than the first go around.

Speaking with you after the 2nd Olympics, you seemed more motivated for the future than ever before. Can you expand on this?
When I came back after the first one I was a little bit lost. Now with the 50K being so new to me, I really want to focus and train smarter and harder. I’ve come back really hungry this time.

How different was experiencing the Olympics with your daughter this time as opposed to her only being an infant the first go around?
Initially that was the real push to make another team so that she could experience it and have a memory of it. Just to be there with her and hear her cheer was amazing.

How does she react when you walk a PR, but don’t win the race?
She understood, she was happy for me. I wanted to still go faster and it wasn’t what I wanted, but she was excited. I asked is she enjoyed the race and she replied “Oh my gosh it was so much fun watching you.” And that’s what it’s really about. I am glad that she had the chance.

Behind every champion is support system, who other than your coach and the army are contributors to your successs?
My daughter Ella is the number one support person that I have. She often gets stuck coming to practice for hours and it’s very boring for her. Every day we talk about it. Recently, when she got back from her mom’s Sunday night she declared “We need to write something on the mirror that says 2016 is the next thing. We need a time on the mirror so we know what we are training for. “ My parents, siblings and friend have also been great support doing whatever they can to help with my pursuits.

You have an unusual relationship with your daughter. You guys are business partners. How did that come about?
When she was little she wanted to bake in the kitchen. We tried different things and settled on cookies. We really liked it and gave some to friends. They really liked it and it just took off. We started Ella’s Cookie Company. We share the work. Sometimes I do more of the baking and she does more of tasting, but we do all together and that’s why it’s so special to me. You can visit our website at


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