I was eighteen when I moved to university to study teaching. I quickly made friends with Jared, who lived locally and was a very fit runner. One day after class Jared asked me if I wanted to go running, I was happy enough to go for a short jog.
It soon dawned on me that Jared and I had different definitions of a short jog. We ran for about eight kilometres at a frantic pace but perhaps Jared was simply jogging. At the end of the eight kilometre circuit, I was completely exhausted. I had spent every ounce of energy just to keep up.
I was lying on the ground, puffing and panting and Jared said to me, “Want to go for another lap?” I went home, Jared ran the course again and I guess that’s why he became an Olympic gold medallist.
From Uni student to Olympic Glory
In 2008 Jared Tallent burst onto the Olympic scene winning a bronze medal in the 20-kilometre men’s race walk. He backed up that performance by winning the silver medal in the men’s 50-kilometre race walk just days later.
At the 2012 Olympics in London, Jared Tallent completed the 50-kilometre walk in 3 hours and 36 minutes winning another silver medal. It was difficult for Tallent to accept the result.
Tallent had long suspected the winner of being a drug cheat. It took four long years but eventually, Tallent was vindicated. The winner was disqualified and Tallent was upgraded to the gold medal and the Olympic record holder.
It was a long walk to gold. Jared returned to his third Olympics in 2016 winning a silver medal in the men’s 50-kilometre walk, his fourth Olympic medal.
Too many dreams
In our university days, Jared didn’t often go out partying with the other university students. He was extremely focused on the sport of race walking.
In contrast, Jarryd Hayne began his rugby league career in 2006 and was named rookie of the year. In 2009 he dominated the season winning the Dally M medal for best player of the 2009 season. He also won an international federation player of the year award.
In 2014 after winning his 2nd Dally M medal Hayne shocked the world of Rugby League by quitting. Hayne relocated to the United States to try his hand at NFL football. Hayne said it was his dream to play in the NFL.
In early 2015 Hayne’s dream became a reality when he was signed by the San Francisco 49ers. Hayne didn’t achieve any international player of the year awards whilst playing in the NFL. Hayne managed just eight games before giving up and pursuing a new dream.
Hayne retired from NFL and made his debut with the Fijian Rugby Sevens team. Hayne had a new dream to go to the 2016 Olympics and win gold in Rugby Sevens.
Hayne played 5 games for Fiji and wasn’t selected for the Olympics. With Hayne's NFL and Olympic dreams up in smoke he returned to Australia and to rugby league.
Eyes on the prize
Jarryd Hayne unsuccessfully attempted to play three different sports. Hayne remarked...
“I would love to have played three sports or four sports. I would love to play league, union, sevens, NFL. I would have loved to play all four but you just can't do it.”
Tallent rose to the top of race walking because he dedicated himself and focused solely on one sport. While Jarryd Hayne was playing three different sports, Tallent was plodding away, step by step on his way to Olympic glory.
Tallent isn’t the world’s best swimmer, diver or snowboarder but he is one of the best racewalkers because of his focus. We can’t all be Olympians, some of us can’t even keep up with Jared when jogging. What we can do is stay focused on our race and pursue our calling step by step until we cross the finish line.
Travis Barnes lives in central Victoria with his wife and two daughters. He is a contributor for Christian Today and a sportswriter.