Joely Welburn: a story of success
Athletic success, life as an athlete, and next year’s season
At the end of February, second-year University of Regina track and field athlete Joely Welburn wrapped up a very successful season after her stellar performance at the U Sports Track and Field Championships where she won pentathlon gold. Throughout the past season, Welburn set several season bests and earned multiple podium finishes; including gold in high jump, silver in long jump and a bronze in the 4×400 relay [along with teammates, Skylar Smith, Michaela Allen and Laura Huck]. Welburn also broke three records, one of which was her own, from earlier in the season. At the Bison Classic, Welburn toppled the U of R’s high jump record, which had held for the past seven years, until she cleared the bar at 1.73m. During the Golden Bear Open Welburn ran the 4×400 with the same ladies as mentioned above, and their time of 3.53.15 set a new record. Despite this incredible finishing time, later on in the season at the U Sports Championships, Welburn and her teammates set a new 4×400 record of 3.50.96.
At the last competition of the season, the U Sports Track and Field Championships, Welburn competed in five events: high jump, long jump, the 4×400, 60m hurdles and shot put. Despite a slightly disappointing finish in shot put, Welburn placed well enough in her other four events that she was able to earn 4055 points. This astonishing total was not only a new personal best for Welburn, but was also good enough to finish in first place, taking home pentathlon gold. In achieving gold, Welburn became only the second female Cougar to accomplish this at a national level. As a result of her success, Welburn has been recognized with three significant honours: U of R Athletics Female Rookie of the Year, Canada West Rookie of the Year, and the 2019 U Sports Female Rookie of the Year.
Welburn was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions about her past season, life as an athlete and goals for next year’s season.
Elisabeth: “What motivated you to begin competing in track and field?”
Joely: “I came from a small town where everyone was encouraged to participate in all the sports that were offered. Track and field challenged me to push my athletic abilities even as a kid. I eventually joined the Excel Track and Field Club where my passion really began to grow and I improved dramatically.”
What do you love best about competing?
“I enjoy that before any race or jump competition, I am able to feel [both] calm [and] a huge rush of adrenaline at the same time. It’s awesome what being in a competition can make your body accomplish.”
Elisabeth: Which event is your favourite and why?
[As] a multi-eventer, my favourite event changes constantly… right now, my favourite is hurdles.
How do you feel about all of your success this past season?
I’m extremely proud of the work both myself and my coach Wade [Huber] put in. I do feel accomplished, but I also want to keep building off of this season to see what I can do.
What were some of the best experiences or moments from this past season?
I would say some of my best experiences were ones I learned from. I false started at nationals in my hurdle race and was flashed a card by one the officials. I wasn’t sure what it meant or if I was supposed to leave the race or not.
In your opinion, what all has contributed to your success?
Consistency for me is key. I like having a routine for both track and school. I also couldn’t have done it without my teammates and family backing me up the entire season. Track is an individual sport so having support is very important.
What does your training involve?
We train six days a week and we have specific plans for each day. Usually we do two to three event-specific sessions in a day, [as well as] weightlifting sessions three times a week.
How do you get pumped up before competition?
It’s difficult to explain, but I like to get in my own head. I try to visualize what techniques are going to land me where I need to be.
What is the most valuable piece of wisdom you learned from competition?
To grow as an athlete, [I need] to take … what might be seen as failures and turn them into a lesson of some sort.
Elisabeth: “Who is your athletic role model and why?”
Brianne Theisen-Eaton. I can relate to [her because] she was a small-town Saskatchewan [girl who] pursued her Olympic dreams. I think of the picture where all of her opponents are laying on the track after the 800 and she is the only one left standing. That’s the strength I aspire to have.
What is your favourite pre and post-race snack or food and why
Before competition, I usually get a rice bowl with salmon or chicken. During and after competition I love granola bites and squeeze apple sauce.
What goals do you have for next season?
I would like to keep building on my pentathlon score and improve in shot put.”
What are you most excited about for next year’s season?
I’m excited to see what another base season can do for me. That’s the part of the season where we are getting whipped into shape. I just want to build off of this season and continue to grow as an athlete.
What advice would you give to a student unsure if they should consider competing in university sports?”
The correspondence between life and sports is crazy. I have enjoyed this process thus far and have developed so many important relationships. I would tell them not to pass up an opportunity like this. It is a part of your life that you don’t want to end.