Christa Bortignon accounts for her Best Master season in Q&A
Canadaâ€™s Christa Bortignon, recently chosen as Best Masters Athlete of 2013 (along with Charles Allie), shares her secrets in a quickie Q&A. But one tidbit stuck out: She was an accountant (and still works part-time). â€śWhen I started out, there were not too many females in a predominantly male profession. So I learned to stand up for myself,â€ť she says. OMG! Thatâ€™s Phil Raschkerâ€™s day job, too! Phil is 10 years younger than Christa at 76 â€” and may be the only athlete with a prayer of beating Christaâ€™s records in sprints, jumps and heptathlon. [And look for me becoming a CPA soon.] My interview also reveals Christaâ€™s dissatisfaction with WMAâ€™s delay in posting records. In any case, the WMA Council made the timely decision in honoring Christa and making arrangements for her (and hubby) to attend the IAAF Gala in Monaco.
Masterstrack.com: When and how did you learn you were selected Best Master?
Christa Bortignon: I received an e-mail from WMA on October 28 from WMA [Secretary] Winston Thomas.
How did you and your family react? How did you celebrate?
My husband was very pleased and we will celebrate when we get to Monaco.
What do you consider your best single performance of 2013? And why?
This is a difficult question; however, probably the 400m in 79.53 in Kamloops, because I donâ€™t like the â€ślongerâ€ť distances, and just started training for the 400m;Â but my coach challenged me, and I had no other event on that day in that meet.
Everyone knows you have to work hard to reach your level, but how do you avoid injury? Share your secrets.
To avoid injuries, I try to listen to my body, have a regular training schedule and not overtrain. I try to stretch AFTERÂ practices and events. Also eat the right food and get plenty of sleep.
Who are your coaches, trainers and support system in athletics? Who helped the most?
My track and hurdles coach is Harold Morioka since May 2010. This year I also have had some help with the vertical jumps from Eugene Konart. He is an ex-Olympian who coaches in my community. We practice three times a week on the track. Harold helped me the most. He has unbelievable knowledge of the sport. I also belong to a local club which has an amazing gym and Olympic size pool.
In addition, I constantly refer to Earl Feeâ€™s book â€śThe Complete Guide to Running.â€ť It is my BIBLE and contains advice on anything you want to know about running. Earl is an amazing athlete and will be 85 next year. He is the only other Canadian to have received this award.
What did you do in your working life? Did any of your jobs help you become a champion athlete?
I was an accountant, [and] still work part-time. When I started out, there were not too many females in a predominantly male profession. So I learned to stand up for myself. I worked for both the Canadian Coast Guard and the Vancouver Fire Department. Both require fit and active people. Also grew up as the only girl with three brothers.
How important to you has it been being a member of a track club?
It has been very important to me to belong to a track club because I did not know anything about running or jumping. Having people of all ages, likes and abilities around you shows you that every one can find their niche. It is so much easier to start training when other people are there. No excuse to skip a day. We encourage and support each other during competitions.
Having achieved the top honor in masters athletics, what goals are you now setting for yourself? More world records?
My first goal is to stay healthy and injury free. For this year, I had hoped to get the long jump record, so I will try next year. But I also have to accept that I will be 77 in January and will be in the third year of this age group.
Youâ€™ve both been to major meets around the world. What can WMA do to improve its meets and service to athletes?
It is a very difficult job to put together these meets, get officials, volunteers, equipment, local authorities and venues coordinated. However, if I may, I would suggest two things. There has to be an improvement on how the world records are handled, both from the process and the timing aspects.
Several of my records have not been recorded on the official WMA website; however, they were used on the Porto Alegre result pages as guide to establish world records during that meet. For example the WMA record show 82.39 as the current world record for W75 400; my time in Porto Alegre was 80.97, [where] they show a 79.53 as the world record, which I ran in August in Kamloops, Canada.
The second suggestion would be to get feedback from the participating athletes from major meets. For example, what I liked in Porto Alegre: They had a security tent next to the Call Room, that was great, we did not have to worry about our belongings. Also they were very generous with water provided in sealed cups, great idea.
Anything else youâ€™d like to share with readers of my blog?
During the few years in this sport I have met the nicest people. Everyone is very friendly and helpful and somehow we always overcome any language problems. I am amazed how generous track athletes are for giving free advice, encouragement and support.
To get to know more about all the rules, I have started on my Officials certificate. This has given me a much better appreciation of what the officials have to do, and to give back to the sport.