With the clock ticking on his Olympic preparation, ex-Arizona Wildcat Pau Tonnesen crossed the pond to put in his final work.
The Wildcat Olympic contingent will all head to Rio from different launchpads and Tonnesen has been in Madrid, Spain, tuning up for his lengthy go in the endurance-testing decathlon.
The Daily Star caught up with Tonnesen from Spain, his mother’s homeland, and the country for which the Tempe native will compete.
What has life been like the last few weeks? How have you prepared for this moment recently?
A: It’s been great. I’ve spent the last few weeks here in Madrid. They have a training center here and I have everything I need. I also competed in the Spanish national championships in Gijon in a few open events. The results weren’t great but it was good experience leading into Rio.”
You were born in Arizona but will represent Spain; how much of a connection do you have to your mother’s homeland and how did you first approach competing for Spain?
A: “I have family here that we used to visit every summer. We always had a blast going to tennis camp and swimming at the beach. I’m really grateful that Spain has allowed me to join their team. Also I have to thank my mom for getting into contact with the Spanish federation. Without her I wouldn’t be wearing the Spanish uniform.”
At what point did going to the Olympics become a reasonable goal for you, rather than just a wish?
A: “I honestly didn’t think it was going to happen until I made the Olympic qualifying mark last year at NCAA nationals. I scored 8,247 points. I couldn’t believe that I had actually done it.”
What are you looking forward to most about Rio?
A: “I can’t wait to compete. I’m so excited to see what will happen and how it will play out. The decathlon is a very long competition and always a lot that can happen.”
Have you been able to get close to your Spanish teammates yet?
A: “I’ve met a couple of teammates. Not a ton so far but once I get to Rio I plan to meet a whole lot more. One particular teammate that I have met is Bruno Hortelano, a 200m runner and Cornell graduate. He’s a really nice guy.”
What is your schedule before you first compete?
A: “I’m not too sure about my schedule. I know everything that I have to get done in terms of training. I’m just not sure where anything is. I’ll figure it out as soon as I get there.”
What is your ultimate goal at this Olympics?
A: “Personally I want to have the best decathlon performance of my life and PR. If I do that, I know I’ll end up in a good spot placewise.”