Q&A: Swiss pole vault star Angelica Moser ‘more experienced and hopefully better’ due to Tokyo 2020 delay

The 2014 Youth Olympic Games champion tells Olympics.com why moving the Olympics to 2021 has helped her, and what advice her Olympian father has imparted.

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Swiss pole vaulter Angelica Moser has tried to make the most of the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to 2021, using the extra year to work on her “weaknesses”.

And now, after being crowned European indoor champion in March, the 23-year-old has emerged as a possible medal contender.

Here, Olympics.com speaks with the 2014 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) champion about her journey to the Games, her Olympian father, and the progress she has been able to make.

Olympics.com: How are you feeling ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games?

Angelica Moser: “I'm feeling excited because it's a big year and I think it will be a great Games, even though it will be a unique Games. Of course, the Olympic Games are already something very, very special and, after everything that the world has been through, being back on the biggest world stage could be a sign that we’re slowly getting back to normality. So, I'm very excited to be competing.”

How challenging have the last 18 months been for you due to the pandemic?

“In the beginning it was difficult, because everything was cancelled, the Olympics were postponed, and it was a hard to keep training at home without a certain goal. But I soon realised that it might be an advantage for me that the Olympics were postponed for a year, because now I'm one year older, more experienced, and hopefully better. When I realised that, the motivation came back pretty fast.”

Do you feel that you've made the progression that you were hoping to make?

“Yes, I think I did progress a lot because I was able to do a lot of training for my weaknesses during that time where we weren't allowed to do the normal training. And then, we went back to training in mid-May last year, so we’ve had time to do a really good build-up in everything.”

Angelica Moser en route to gold at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Torun, Poland. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for European Athletics)
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

You won the European indoor title in March. How happy are you with your preparations for Tokyo?

“That was pretty good because I could show where I had improved and that I'm capable of jumping high. But unfortunately, some weeks after, I got an injury to my neck – a muscle injury – so I’m just a little behind [where I would like to be]. I’m back competing already, so it’s a good start, we’re in a good way and I still have some time to go.”

The first time we saw you on an Olympic stage was at the YOG Nanjing 2014. What are your memories of that event?

“That was huge for me because it was a really big deal. I was even allowed to carry the flag at the Opening Ceremony. That was a really great experience, and also to live in an Olympic Village with so many other people, and to get that Olympic experience was really cool. I think I already was pretty determined to make it to the Olympic Games before that, but it probably motivated me even more.”

How did it feel to win the gold medal?

“It felt really good. I was not coming in as a favourite, but I was able to win the gold and do a personal best, so that's always something really special. It was very important for me, because it was, at that time, the biggest thing that I could win in my age group. That was really a big deal and also it was the first time the media really started to cover me, and I got some attention, so I was able to learn a bit from that as well.”

You went on to compete at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 just two years later. Were you able to learn anything from your experiences in Nanjing that helped prepare you for Rio?

“I think so, yes, because I already knew all of the things that were going to happen like the Village and the big competitions, the many people you meet, the many people you see. Still, the Olympics in Rio were another level again, because when you go out in the Village you see the stars of every sport and they're just living there in the same place as you. I was only 18 and, at that young age, things like that still take your breath away.”

How do you reflect on your experiences in Rio?

“It was already a huge success just to qualify for the Olympics and so it was all about gaining experience, and it was a great time. My family came to see me, so I was really supported pretty well. And then being in the Olympic Village, seeing all the great athletes, being with the whole Swiss team... it was just a huge deal.”

If qualifying for Rio was a success for you, what will be your target for Tokyo?

“My goal is to qualify for the final this year. A lot will be dependent on the conditions – you cannot say what height you will need for that – but I think I need to jump at my best to qualify for the final, because the women's pole vault field will be very strong. There'll be a lot of girls who can challenge. I just need to jump well.”

Your father was also an Olympian, competing in decathlon in 1988. Did that bring extra meaning to what the Olympic Games are for your family?

“Yes, of course. Because he was an Olympian, it meant for me it was not impossible to reach a goal like the Olympics. He showed me that it is possible to go there from where we're coming from. And then you have a role model in your own family, and you know how far you can go.”

Has he been able to give you advice?

“He has given me a lot of advice; for life, in general, but also for sports. And I think it helps a lot if your parents are very supportive for your sport, and they try to help you reach your goals. And I'm very happy that I have a family that always stands behind me.”

What do the Olympic Games mean to you personally?

“I think it's every athlete’s biggest goal to make it to the Olympics and perform there. So, it's also my biggest goal to be there and compete there. When you're a child and you start doing sports, you dream of the Olympics, so it's like a dream coming true. And even though I've been to the Olympics already, it's still a dream come true going to my second Games.”

What would be your advice to any young athletes who are looking to follow in your footsteps and make it to the Olympic Games one day?

“Just always keep having fun doing what you do and never give up, even if is a little bit hard sometimes.”

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