Q&A With Olympian Brent LaRue
July 18, 2012
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Taking time from his busy schedule of training for the Olympic Games in Slovenia, former Wake Forest track and field standout Brent LaRue answered some questions on the upcoming 2012 Olympics in London.
Hailing from Kernersville, N.C., LaRue is slated to run the 400m hurdles for the European nation of Slovenia. The former All-ACC and All-America honoree explains how he came to run for Slovenia, what he's looking forward to the most and how his time at Wake Forest benefitted him.
How has your training process been so far?
The training has been great this year. It is different than training in the US and Wake Forest, but this being my second year living and running in Slovenia, I have really gotten accustomed the training here. It really was a full 360 when I came here. I live, study, work, train and do everything Slovene now. It was important to me that If I were to represent Slovenia in competition that I really embraced and did it all the Slovenian way. That's not to say I don't use my previous experiences, but everything from my breakfast to my coaching is now Slovene.
How did you come to run for Slovenia?
What else makes you make such dramatic life changes, love. I met my wife Ana Jerman (now Ana LaRue) at Wake Forest my sophomore year. She was on the tennis team and we happened to cross paths. We tried not to take our relationship too seriously at first because we both saw the difficulties of any future together so we just enjoyed each other's company. But as things tend to go, that didn't work. We asked ourselves some tough questions and on August 7, 2010 we got married. Since she was in the US since she was 14 and I am from Kernersville, it just worked for both of us to go to Slovenia. She missed home and I wanted to see the world outside of the piedmont. I had trained with some Slovene coaches on a few of my previous visits and when Ana and I talked about our future and moving to Slovenia, I also had some conversations with members of the Slovenian Athletic Federation. They said there was a possibility of running for Slovenia. And after loads and loads of paperwork, obstacles and rallying by the athletic federation, here I am.
Coming from the United States, how has the transition been in joining the Slovenian team?I think the greatest changes aren't athletically but actually culturally. It isn't so different like I moved to China, because Slovenia is still a European country, but there are certainly differences. The most difficult transition has been learning the language. Most people are capable of speaking English, but to actually be a part of the community and feel comfortable in your surroundings it is necessary to speak Slovene. Athletically, I really have been accepted by other coaches, athletes, and fans. I was pleasantly surprised actually, I did expect some resistance with transferring my athletic allegiance, but I have been welcomed quite readily.
What are you looking forward to most in your first Olympic experience?
I don't know where to begin. I think just the whole experience is going to be awesome. I think stepping onto the track in a giant stadium with spectators from all around the world and representing an entire nation is going to be pretty special. This is a very individual sport, except maybe for relays, so you rarely have opportunity to run for more than yourself. I'm excited to run for more than myself and I hope I can make Slovenia proud.
How has your time at Wake Forest benefited you to this point?
Honestly I don't think I really understood the value of a liberal arts education. I knew it was part of a higher academic pursuit, but I never imagined how useful it would actually be in my daily life. I am also continuing my education in Slovenia with an International Master's in Business. Having such a solid foundation from Wake has proved very beneficial. Also competing in the Decathlon has taught me so many things which vital to my success now. I really learned a lot about athletics from my coaches Scott Hall, Brian Clymer, and Michael Bennett. The guidance from my coaches and the experience I gained at Wake have proven to be invaluable in both my athletics career and life in general.
Are you looking forward to meeting or competing against any other athletes at the Games?
I don't really have any track idols that I want to meet in particular, but I am excited to compete against other guys with such athletic prowess. It's rare to have so much talent in one place, and I always find that when you put so much talent together, you get surprising results. I'm excited to be among such amazing athletes and am looking forward to the whole experience, and hopefully surprise a few people while I am there.
Did you ever imagine you would be competing in the Olympics?
I imagined a million times, but never knew it would actually come true.
The first round of the 400m hurdles is scheduled to begin on Aug. 3 at 6:15 a.m. EST. Broadcast details can be found through NBC.