With time running out and the pressure mounting with each race, it was with great relief and elation that Australia’s Selma Kajan clocked the Rio 800m Qualifier in Barcelona, Spain late last week. Runner’s Tribe caught up with Selma for a quick post qualifier Q and A.

RT: How good does it feel to get the 800 Rio Qualifier after being painstakingly close in your previous attempts?

Selma Kajan: It feels extremely satisfying to finally get that Olympic Qualifier. It’s been something I’ve been working towards for sometime now, and to get close a couple of times, but just miss makes it feel even better to tick off a big goal.

Barcelona, Spain post qualifier: Photo from Selma's instagram
Barcelona, Spain post qualifier: Photo from Selma’s Instagram

RT: What were the key factors that allowed you the get the Q in Barcelona (ESP)?

SJ: I always knew Barcelona was going to be a good race. Not just in terms of competition, but also knowing it would be warm and most likely perfect conditions. I also knew I was running out of quality races. And knew from previous experience the more you chased and didn’t get the time, the harder it gets. So I think just my mind set and determination coming into this race, as sort of my real ‘last shot’, was what got me there. I didn’t change too much in terms of tactics, but just hoped if I focused and really just raced rather than starred at the clock, it would be enough.

Women's 800m Final Australian Nationals 2016: Photo by Ewa Facioni
Women’s 800m Final Australian Nationals 2016: Photo by Ewa Facioni

RT: Was there ever any doubt in your mind that you’d achieve the qualifier and did the pressure keep mounting with each race?

SJ: Doubt always creeps into our minds from time to time, especially when you’ve had a few attempts at something and fallen short. I definitely felt disappointed and a bit deflated after a few bad races in Europe, but one thing I think I’m really good at is picking myself up after a bad performance and getting on with things. I think the pressure mounting with the qualifying period edging closer came mostly from myself. Like my coach Nic Bideau told me, no one actually cares if you don’t make the Olympics, life will go on. You’re the one who will care the most so you want to make the most of each opportunity.

Women's 800 Final — with Selma Kajan at Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre. Photo by Ewa Facioni
Women’s 800 Final — with Selma Kajan at Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre. Photo by Ewa Facioni

RT: How has been the reaction of your family/friends/team been since clocking the Q? Any shout outs?

SJ: The reaction has been overwhelming. Everyone has been incredibly kind and supportive which has been really lovely to see. With athletics being such a lonesome and selfish sport at times, you can sometimes forget all the people who are behind you and have been following your athetic career. For me, there is no way I would of persisted this long with athletics and reached this dream without my family, especially my parents, Alija and Biba Kajan, who have supported me above and beyond when not many people did. They have been my sponsers, counselors and best support network, so a huge thank you to them! I also have to say a thank you to my coach, Nic, who has helped me progress over the last 16 months and given me every opportunity to succeed. Lastly, my boyfriend, Collis, who day in and day out supports me, running well or not. We are very lucky that majority of the time we get to experience this whole journey together.

RT: Now that you have the qualifier, where to now?

SJ: Well, I have the qualifier and permitting I do get selected and announced in the team July 12th, I have to get ready for the big stage, Rio. I think I’m still yet to realise my potential for this season and would like to get quicker and quicker heading into the games.