2012 - Maria Michta Post Olympic Interview
How has your life changed now that you are an Olympian?
I feel comfortable wearing gear with the Olympic Rings on it. I don't feel like it is a jinx.
So you before you were an Olympian you wouldn't wear anything that had the Olympic rings on it?
Nope. Even my trials shirt from '08 I would only wear it on a workout I knew I had to dig deep in which were very few and far between.
So are you a superstitious walker?
Not really, but with the Olympic rings I felt it was something you had to earn and I hadn't earned it yet so I didn't have the right to wear it yet.
Up until you qualified for the Olympics, were the Olympics your ultimate goal?
Yeah, literally my whole life it was like just get to the summer of 2012. Get through the Olympic Trails and then I will figure out the rest of my life from there. I knew I was focused and determined and everything, but I didn't realize how consuming it was until now that I've stepped back into work I realize how much more of my brain is able to think about work where before it was preconsumed thinking about TRAINING, TRAINING, TRAINING and how I was going to get ready. It's kind of like when you get a new computer and there is all this crap software already loaded on it, even though you don't need it. Now I got rid of that stuff and I can focus more intensely on my work. I am still training (can I add hard?) and still have goals but it's not the same burdern.
The difference between being a no time Olympian and a one time Olympian is huge. The difference between being a one-time Olympian and two-time Olympian is not as big.
Right, it's kind of like whatever happens I've gotten the thrill of the experience once. However, one has to be realistic. Race walking doesn't have sponsors lining up knocking on my door and paying my bills while I go to grad school. My immediate goal is to get my PhD, get married and see where I am then.
If you did go back to the Olympics do you fantasize what you will do there?
The first goal is to go to the World Championships again and improve upon my finish. It's so hard to judge just on pace. People are getting a lot faster every year so I want to improve upon myself. I got the fastest American time at the Olympics and I would like to do the same at the World Championships in Moscow. Then in Rio I feel my goal would have to be made that year, see where I am at and how much faster I have already gotten. I'd love to have a top 20 finish. I don't know if that is realistic or not.
You are the first really youthful woman on the US team in a while. That's good from the perspective that you have a lot more potential than someone in their upper 30's or 40's in terms of improving your amazing performance at the Olympic Games. So looking at your time, if I put myself in your head, do you think about a sub 1:30 as an ultimate goal?
I think that would be awesome. Honestly, going into London I knew I was ready for a good time. I knew I was in the best shape of my life. I would have been happy with any PR, even by a second, but I really wanted the A-Standard. I wasn't really thinking I would walk as fast as I did so I am still getting used to thinking about walking that fast. I'll let you in on a little secret. I play this number game. I am a little psychotic about numbers. When I look at license plates and the license plate would say 93:27 I would say that's the A standard 1:33:27 and I want to walk that time. So now when I look at license plates I say oh that's too slow, oh that's too slow. I need to start looking at 1:32 or 1:31. Every time I PR'd it's been by a minute or two. So I guess the next stage is to look at sub 1:30.
So you finished the Olympic trials and you said I got 5 of the 6 rings that I wanted. So how much cr*p did you give him for that.
It wasn't really his fault for waiting. First grad school delayed our lives and then I delayed grad school for training for the Olympics. The reason he was waiting was not him having cold feet it was mainly me. He actually got the ring the just before leaving for the Olympic Trials, but he knew not to give it to me at the Trials because I said I wanted the engagement to be special and not caught up in the excitement of the trials. I didn't know he had a ring, he didn't bring it out to Oregon.
Let's go back to the Olympic Trials. You were walking with Erin playing a strategic game going back and forth.
I assume you were doing that because you knew you could outkick her if you had to?
I started out with Teresa and figured we would switch off every 2 K. Then next thing I knew Teresa dropped off. Then I was leading the race and Tim was saying I shouldn't do all the work for the whole race. So it was like a game going on. So I wasn't leaving it for a 100 meter sprint that I was confident in. However, I knew if she was going to go and start walking a solid honest pace it would be at that point I would drop the hammer. Then with 4km to go I knew I wasn't going to give up the lead to anyone else. It was just too close to the wire, I wanted to have that 1/2 step. Then she went falling back and Miranda made three or four moves during that last four K.
That's where I was going to next. Obviously, Miranda is on your training team, she is your friend. You saw her come from way back and close ground on the two of you. What was going through your mind.
So around 10km I saw the splits that we were hitting or lack there of and I knew that Miranda was doing well so I was hoping she would catch us earlier and I was hoping that she would kinda go when she did, but she sat back. I was hoping she would wake us up. When she did make her moves the work had already been done and I wasn't going to trade off the lead. I wasn't going to relinquish it. Not even for a step.
What was your best moment of the Olympics:
The race. The crowd was absolutely phenomenal. Having my family there with them all cheering. I've raced and been in the zone, but this was in a way I've never felt it before. I was in cloud 9 through the race. I was interacting people, signing I love you, just having a blast with it all while getting my PR. At 8K I shrugged my shoulders at Tim I didn't know why I felt so good and my heart rate was so low. I really think it's like when I woman's trapped in her car and she can lift it up, but it lasted for 90 minutes. It didn't hit me until 30 minutes later and then I was completely done.