Q&A WITH… SAGE WATSON

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Country: Canada

Profession: Athlete (400mH)

Career highlights:

  • National record 54.32 (400mH)
  • 2019 World Championships finalist
  • 2019 Pan American Games Gold (400mH)
  • 2019 Pan American Games Silver (4×400 m relay)
  • 2016 Olympian

You grew up in an area where the sport (hurdles) was barely recognised and there were limited facilities. How did you end up competing professionally?

I grew up in Southern Alberta on a ranch with my family. My mom was in the police force so she would run to stay fit, I always wanted to go running with her so that’s how I developed my interest in running. I started entering in school competitions and then I eventually entered in a provincial competition that was being hosted in my hometown. I won the 400m and I made the provincial team. From there I won the Western Canada Championships, and I started to get recognized by coaches. In 2011 I made the World Youth team for Canada which put me on the scene for Universities to start recruiting me. In 2012 I accepted a scholarship to Florida State University then eventually transferring to the University of Arizona where I won the NCAA championship in the 400H. After I graduated I signed with an agent and started running professionally. 

You recently broke the 23-year-old Canadian 400m Hurdles record; how would you describe this moment?

That moment was a long time coming. I had been trying for years to break it. My goal was to make the World Championship final and I knew I had to give it my all to make it so in that moment my only goal was to make the final and I just happened to break the record while doing it. It was a very special moment. 

You had your first injury free season this year. What kept you going in the previous seasons where you struggled with injuries?

What kept me going through 5 years of injuries was knowing what my goals were in this sport and having the belief that I would achieve those goals. Injuries, as tough as they are, are also great experiences to learn about yourself and your weaknesses. They not only challenge you physically, but they also challenge you mentally and I feel that I grew a lot as an athlete going through those injuries and I believe a lot of my motivation now comes from being injured and going through tough times. 

You have been quite outspoken about your disappointment at the way female athletes’ bodies are portrayed in the media – what do you think should be done to change this view of women in sport? What is your view on the sexualization of female athletes?

I want to see women in sport celebrated for their strength, abilities and achievements not for how sexy they look while doing the sport. Sports has come a long way in the past few decades and I believe that is because women in sports have been given a bigger platform. I feel that we need to promote body positivity and encourage women to do sports not because its “sexy” but because they want to accomplish something within their sport and be a role model for others. We are moving in the right direction, I hope that one day women’s sports are celebrated just as much as men’s sports are. Everyone has the right express themselves in whatever way they want,  but I always try to keep in mind: would I want a young girl to see what I’m posting, promoting or saying right now? I want to be a role model for young girls and show them you just need to be you to be successful, you don’t have to be “sexy” just be you. 

Can you tell us more about the race red lipstick? 

The Red lipstick started when I was in University, I wanted something to wear that would help boost my confidence while racing so I started wearing lipstick. I always loved lipstick and when I wear it I feel confident because when you look good you feel good then you run good! I never expected it to get the attention it did because I was honestly just wearing it for myself. It became part of my uniform and people really loved it so I stuck with it and from this day I still love wearing it. It still always gives me more confidence when I put it on before a race. 

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