THE GAME. Jumping for Gold

Alexandra Wester

Meet Alexandra Wester, one of Germany’s brightest track and field stars hoping to long jump her way into the Olympic record books at her first games in Rio this month.  Hot property both on and off the Olympic circuit, her steely determination and model good looks (she can thank her German-Gabonese heritage for those) have also caught the eye of Puma. The sportswear giants recently snapped up Wester as their newest ambassador to join their growing roster of strong women who are representing a new era in sport. So how does this 21- year-old prepare for the jump of her life watched by the world? Sand & Smoke sat down with Alexandra  just before she jetted off to  Rio to find out…

I always think about this moment…I’m standing on the runway next to the greatest athletes who once where my idols but now they’re my rivals, and I’m there for the competition of my life to make the jump of my life.

PREPARATION FOR RIO.

Mentally I have been preparing since I was a little kid. It was always my goal to be an Olympian. That’s what runs through my mind every night before I go to sleep and that’s what motivates me every morning to push harder.  I also take good care of my nutrition to stay my optimum weight for the competition and have the perfect physique to jump as far as I can.

Alexandra WesterTHE JOURNEY.

It all started when I was six years old, my father saw that I was full of energy and needed an outlet for this. At first, my father wanted me to do ballet but I knew it wasn’t for me, so he took me to track practice. At the beginning it was just fun, I used to play around and my poor coach didn’t know what do to with me, she almost threw me out of practice when I was seven…but I loved track and had a lot of fun doing it. Of course, my discipline during my workouts adjusted as did my motivation and dreams and that’s how I became German Youth Champion in the heptathlon when I was 15-years-old. That was also the point when I realised it wasn’t just a dream to be a great athlete one day, I knew that I was not far from it. Unfortunately, I had a lot of injuries after that but I pushed through them and that’s why I am finally back.

OLYMPIC GOAL.

Right now, I can only imagine how it would be to compete at the Olympics, it’s a moment I have finally reached after fighting for it for my whole track career. This is also what I think about during hard training sessions to motivate myself and it has helped my decision to keep on fighting over the years especially after all the injuries I have had.

The Olympics are the biggest goal for every athlete – this is the peak of your career. There is a big difference to a typical competition.

STAYING MOTIVATED.

I love track and field. There is no need for extrinsic motivation because if you have something in life that fulfils you, you won’t lack motivation. Everyday I wake up and my first thoughts are: what am I going to train today? What shall I focus on? How does it bring me further? It is the highlight of my day and it always has been since I started.

WOMAN IN SPORT.

When I was a kid I embraced sport because I was always stronger and faster than the boys. Nowadays more and more women go to the gym on a daily basis and they get addicted to it because it makes you feel strong, both physically and mentally.

If you survive your workout you will survive everyday challenges.

I love to see the female quota grow in different sports and how it gives women self confidence. Women are joining different sports and the media supports strong women who are idols to many girls all over the world. Strong women like Heike Drechsler, Jackie-Joyner Kersee, Serena Williams, Ronda Rousey embody independence, emancipation and character. Nowadays women get acknowledged for their performance and this is a great thing.

ROLE MODEL.

I didn’t realise I was even a role model until I got my first fan letters and comments on Facebook and Instagram. I feel honored to be a role model and every girl that tells me that I motivated her to do better makes me feel very proud.

YOUR WISDOM.

You should listen to yourself. Find the sport you love and when you do – GRIND. Do your best with all the motivation you have. If there are hard times, listen to those and do it for love.

Don’t let anybody tell you that you aren’t good enough…it’s not your current performance that matters, it’s your potential that does. Bring out the best in yourself.

DAY IN THE LIFE.

I love to sleep long, ideally until 10am but this only happens on Sundays. During the week I wake up at 8am to go to the university (I’m doing my Bachelors degree in Sports Science). After that, or sometimes in between courses, I go to practice, this takes normally two to three hours, but sometimes it can be up to four. This might sound like a deterrent but I enjoy every minute in practice – this is where you get your head free. In the evening, after practice and university, I go home or meet up with friends. If I go home I watch some Netflix before going to sleep.

ADVICE.

Half of your performance comes through practice, the other half through your nutrition. Don’t do your workouts and expect to bring out the best of you when your nutrition isn’t on point. A lot of people who try to eat healthy have problems with not knowing enough healthy meals to cook. I look at different fitness health pages and recipes to get inspiration – @FitMenCook is one of my favourites.

LOOKING GOOD.

When a woman looks good, she’ll feel good and be more confident. Confidence is what you need on the track.I like to take my time to get ready for a big competition. I barely wear makeup during the week but on a competition I take more time. I also love to see the other women who took their time to get ready and look flawless.

COMPETITION RITUALS.

I like to dance to some Afropop and Dancehall beats in the hotel room to get my head free, to get loose and build self-esteem.

AFTER RIO.

I’ll finish the season with a couple more competitions. Then I’ll definitely take some time off and go on vacation. It will be a hot place with a lot of sun.

BEING A PUMA AMBASSADOR.

Puma represents strong women. This is the centrum, the heart of Puma. I love the designs and I think women feel pretty and more confident in their apparel. Women and sports belong together, this is what Puma supports and realises in beautiful designs.

It is a great feeling to work together with Puma. They represent the right values and they are the perfect fit for me. I’m proud to be their ambassador.

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