Sept. 8, 2016
Jordin Andrade and Kurt Felix returned home from Rio a couple weeks ago after competing in the 2016 Summer Olympics, representing Cape Verde in the 400m hurdles and Grenada in the decathlon, respectively. Broncosports.com caught up with the two of them to discuss their experiences.
Kurt Felix (Grenada - Decathlon)
So this is your second go-around at the Olympics, how much did it help to have that experience from London in 2012?
It helped a lot, especially mentally. The first time at the Olympics I couldn’t believe I was really there, and this time around I was more prepared physically and mentally.
The circumstances were also a lot different in 2012. You were coming off your NCAA title in June, and then two short months later you were competing in the Olympics. Did your preparation change much from 2012 to 2016?
During NCAA’s, the college season is pretty long. That short turnaround didn’t really give me enough time to rest because I was training up until the games, and it would have been my fifth decathlon, and my body was just tired. These games I was able to prepare myself and not have to force myself to push through whenever there was a nagging pain. I could take my time and prepare.
You and brother – Lindon Victor – both represented Grenada in the decathlon at this year’s Olympics. What was it like to share that experience with him?
It’s always fun competing together because we keep each other’s heads in the game. During the competition we make jokes, laugh and have fun. Both of us are out there doing our thing.
He followed in your footsteps exactly from your experience in 2012 – winning the NCAA title and rolling into the Olympics – did you give him plenty of advice in making the transition?
Every time he competed this year we would talk and I would give him my advice; don’t chase the numbers, just compete and the marks will come. I’ve been there to guide him along and make things a lot easier for him.
Getting back to the decathlon, you found yourself in eighth place with 4,290 points at the end of the first day How did you feel about your first five events?
For me they weren’t anything special. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. There were a lot of areas where I knew I lost some points, but coming into the Games two months prior I couldn’t really run because I had a problem with my hip. Given the fact I was worried about getting there and competing, it could have been better. I lost points in some of my strong events, but that’s the decathlon. You have to take whatever it gives on that particular day.
On the second day, you had a late surge and recorded career-best marks in the javelin and 1,500m. What led to those performances happening?
Given the fact that I was having a fairly okay meet, I just was wondering if anything was going to go right in the javelin and the 1,500m. It gave me more motivation for next season because I know once I put it all together and I’m healthy again, good things are going to happen.
When you finally cross the finish line in the 1,500m, what’s the primary emotion? Is it exhaustion, relief, joy?
A little of all three. Happy that I finished, and happy that the two days are over. It’s tough, because all of us decathletes dread the 1,500m. So to get that over with, I was happy to be done with it.
When you weren’t competing, what was your favorite thing that you did in Rio?
I would say competing with my brother. I didn’t really do much sight-seeing or anything like that. Being near my brother and some of my teammates – the bond that we have as a team is really good. Meeting new people and meeting new friends, that’s what the Olympic Games are also about. To be able to do that, it was really enjoyable.
We saw a couple crazy pictures of meals that athletes got after finishing with their competitions, was your first meal after the decathlon a crazy cheat meal?
I had a lot of pizza. I tried incorporate some healthy stuff so I didn’t feel too bad, but I had a lot of pizza, brownies and stuff like that.
You’ll be 32 when the Olympics go to Tokyo in 2020. What’s the plan as your continue to grow in your career?
Definitely setting my sights on 2020. In the decathlon, my current coach won a medal when he was 32 or 33, so that’s kind of the peak age for the decathlon. My goal is to stay healthy for the next four years and get there and compete there at a great level. Leading up to that is the World Championships next year, Commonwealth Games and Pan American Games, so it’s going to be a relatively busy buildup to Tokyo.
Jordin Andrade (Cape Verde - 400m Hurdles)
Let’s start with Opening Ceremonies. When you and the Cape Verde contingent were introduced, NBC had some nice commentary on you and your backstory. What was that moment like when you walked into the Olympic Stadium with your fellow Cape Verdeans?
To walk out there, it was truly incredible. The biggest thing was looking out into the stands and seeing what you see on TV. Jam-packed with fans, everybody was yelling and all eyes were on you regardless of how many people walked out with you. It seemed like such an uplifting event. With Cape Verde, we got a lot of love when we were in Brazil. A lot of Cape Verdeans end up moving to Rio and living there, so we got a lot of love out there, which was awesome.
You tweeted out a picture with you and Kurt Felix at the opening ceremonies as well. How cool was it to share that experience with a fellow Bronco?
He was one of the first people I was looking for as soon as I got there. I said, “I have to find Kurt, he’s the man.” It almost feels like a bigger accomplishment knowing that he and I got to represent a school that’s not necessarily a track powerhouse, but we went to the Olympics and represented our school. I’ve always dreamed of representing places that gave me good credibility, and Boise State gave me my chance to shine as an NCAA athlete, and I always want to give my dues back.
What does it mean to you that you were the first-ever Cape Verdean to reach a semifinal round at an Olympic Games?
It was really was rewarding. Coming from one minute - my whole Olympic career came down to a disqualification, to all of Cape Verde having my back and being congratulatory towards me and telling me good job and they all have my back that might be my favorite experience from the whole trip. All the support that I got from everybody, people that I never met or talked to in my life, they reached out to me to let me know that they had my back whether they were American or Cape Verdean. I made a lot of friends; a lot of people who I know will have my back moving forward. That was my favorite experience of the whole trip.
The 49.32 in the semifinals. Were you pleased with that performance, especially with the odds stacked against you being in lane one?
I have really mixed feelings about the semifinals. It’s funny because the time is not a bad time. It’s a good time, I can’t be mad about it. I think it’s the third-fastest time I ever ran. But I felt so good, I knew the mistakes that I made during prelims and I knew if I corrected them, I would be set. In my opinion if I’m in the lead going into the last 100m, there is a small amount of people that have the chance to catch me. I should have run in the 48’s in prelims easily. I made a dumb mistake, but it was also a learning moment because I knew what I needed to do run 48’s in the semifinals. That was the biggest goal; I knew if I went 48 that would at least give me a shot at making the finals. I executed my plan properly, I felt fast, I felt like I was running a good race and then next thing I knew I was like, “Oh my gosh, I’m out of this right now, this isn’t good.” I was caught off guard because I thought I executed a great race plan.
Another thing fans might not know is that you roomed with your dad over the course of the Olympics, how was that experience?
It was great to have that experience. My dad is on top of the world right now. He feels like he was the one running. I do know one thing though, he snored every night and that definitely didn’t help me sleep very well. It was great to have family there. My mom was there too, and just to have my whole family there to support me was amazing. When I temporarily was disqualified I realized how awesome it was to have them there to have my back, it was really helpful.
What was the coolest part about the Olympic Village?
I loved meeting new people. That was probably my favorite part, meeting everybody. They had so many opportunities to do things, it was a lot of fun. The food was great, I thought it was delicious and well organized. I was really impressed with how the Olympic Committee had the food preparation organized. There wasn’t a moment that we ran out of forks, knives, spoons, food, nothing. Everything was stocked, floor was swept and everything was beautifully maintained. I was really impressed with that as simple as it sounds. As an athlete you eat a lot of food, and it made me happy to know that I could go in there anytime I wanted to and eat well.
What was your favorite sport to watch – besides track?
I didn’t get to watch too much live, I watched plenty from the TV. But I went and supported my fellow Cape Verdean teammates; there was a boxer, a gymnast, and a taekwondo athlete. I’ve never seen taekwondo live so I tried to teach myself the rules and what was going on. But out of all of them I think taekwondo was the most interesting, but I really just went to support my teammates.
What’s next for you?
So my season right now is unfortunately over. If I could have gone 48 seconds in the Olympics I would have been travelling the world running some more, but my next goal is next year we have the world championships. That’s another situation that Cape Verde hasn’t really ever advanced a lot of athletes. I don’t even think anyone has ever made it to the semis, so my goal is for Cape Verde athletics to continue to be highlighted. I want people to recognize it and my goal is to bring awareness to Cape Verde, and that’s what I’m going to try this next year at worlds.