Q&A WITH… ANTHONIQUE STRACHAN

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Country: Bahamas

Profession: Athlete

Career highlights:

  • 3x Olympian – 2012, 2016, 2020
  • 2017 World Relay Championships gold medallist – 4x400m relay
  • 2012 100m and 200m World Junior Champion
  • 5x CARIFTA Games (Junior) gold medallist
  • 2x Pan American Junior Championships gold medallist

How were you introduced to athletics?

I was introduced to track and field through a sports camp in Bahamas for kids. One summer when my cousins were staying with us, my mom just got really frustrated with us always making noise and messing up the house after it had been cleaned. So, she packed us up one day and sent us all to summer camp. I wanted to join the swimming group and I came there with my swimsuit and everything, but I registered too late. The only available part was track and field because my cousin went into dance and I am not a public dancer, so I went into track and field. I literally did nothing for the first session, I sat down the entire time and was whining and complaining because I really don’t like being outside. I had never done track and field before so I didn’t want to do something new, I don’t usually like doing new things because it technically means I may not be good at it. I was eventually bribed by one of the instructors and he was like “Hey if you run today, tomorrow we will make sure that you go into swimming”. He asked me to do 400 meters, I did the 400 meters then he put me against some of other kids, and I ran faster than majority of them. They never put me in swimming, they just kept me in track and field! Mr Gardner, the coach, talked to my parents about me continuing with track, but at first, they were like if she doesn’t want to do track and field, she doesn’t have to do it, we’re not going to force her to do anything she don’t want to do. Mr Gardner eventually told my parents that I could get a scholarship, and they were like: you are going to track and field!

You’ve been to three Olympic Games, what has been your favourite Olympic moment?

My favourite moment of the Olympics would have to be the London 2012 opening ceremony.  It was breath-taking, especially where they had the stunt double for the queen, and she was parachuting inside the London Stadium. The crowd in London were very active, and they partook in everything, and just made the Games like completely different from anything I’ve ever experienced. I was still a junior athlete, so it was very memorable, and it surely left a stamp on me. Even to this very day I am still looking for things from other Olympic Games to surpass London – but nothing has.  Everyone just says it’s because it was my first Olympics that’s why I hold it so high, but 2016 just didn’t give me London vibes nor did 2020 + 1. 2020 + 1 was during a pandemic, so there was an excuse.

Becoming junior world champion must have been very exciting, but can you tell us about the pressure and expectation that can follow such an achievement.

Becoming a junior champion is very taxing. Well at that point in time it was fun, and I was having fun in sports, it wasn’t anything to serious for me. The pressure came after 2012 when I was no longer junior, and I was a professional and they made everything about money and the shoe companies and stuff. I was getting so many awards and accolades, then the expectations started to rain down on me. My coach at the time was like, “you have to show them why you’re getting all these awards; you need to look like a double world junior champion, and you need to have the perfect transition”.

I was so busy trying to do everything that everyone else wanted, I felt as if I was suffocating on the expectations and lost sight of what I wanted. I was being told what the shoe companies, the federation and my coach wanted, and that I should do what they all want. At no point in time, was it about what Anthonique wants or needs from the sport. I eventually lost the love and everything for the sport, I just was doing it because this was all I knew, and I was paying my bills with it. I wanted to feel what I felt before. I’m not fully there yet, but I am getting back there slowly.

It is tiring, that is the best way I could put it. The expectations and the pressure are just really tiring and suffocating, especially if you’re like me. I talk a lot, but I don’t necessarily talk about myself a lot so it’s going to be hard for people to know how I feel.

Can you tell us about the significance of your tattoos?

My very first tattoo was a spike on my back, I got it when I was still in high school. I was at the height of my love for track and field, and I wanted a spike tattoo to emphasize that. I talked to my mom into letting me get a tattoo and she paid for it, so that was good for me.

Later, I got some flowers with a bird on my side, that was just to cover up a burn that I got from falling in 2011. I fell during a 4x100m relay and got a track burn. I thought the scar would just fade away, but it didn’t. It’s very big and every time I’d go to the beach or wore crop tops people would ask how I got that.  I felt as if they were staring at it, so I decided to cover it up because I didn’t like seeing it. I love flowers and birds and decided to go with them, that’s like a softer side to me. I eventually joined it with my Leo’s head because I’m born on August 22nd, which makes me a Leo. I like lions, their whole history and what they stand for. I also got that placed on my side and I chose that placement because at the time I was body conscious and I was getting stretch marks on my hip, and it was an insecurity for me at that time. And if I get more stretch marks like it would look like the lion is a fighter and stretch marks are the lion’s scars.

I also have a rosary tattoo on my leg, which is for my cousin who passed away (God rest her soul). We had always said that we were going to get tattoos together and we weren’t able to do that because she died before I was able to go back to Bahamas. This is what we were discussing, so I got it and I got it on my ankle. I decided to place in on my ankle because I don’t like things on my hands or wrist.

In 2020 I got two other tattoos. The one behind my ear is a Buddhist tattoo that symbolizes that you are going to reach your destination, but it isn’t going to be easy, it’s going to have a lot of twists and turns and probably even pauses but once you get there you get there. The other is a dreamcatcher to repel bad energy and only accepting the good and trying to promote positive vibes from myself.

I have another smaller tattoo that people usually don’t see, it’s just more personal. It is to remind myself that even though you suffered from depression at one point in time, you are no longer where you were, and you fought through that.  

So that’s all my tattoos and their significance. I am planning to get more; I already have them in my mind and in my book to say where I’m going to get them and why I want them. I don’t get my tattoos like in the whim of a moment. I usually plan in advance and then look at that spot for a long time and decide if I want a tattoo there.

Your Instagram profile says “Different doesn’t mean wrong” – can you explain what you mean by this?

Different doesn’t mean wrong is just basically saying you don’t have to try to be someone else to get perfect results because there’s no such thing as perfect results. Be different, be yourself and be who you want to be. Do things how you want to do things, because life experiences and first-hand experiences and knowledge is better than anything else. You could take advice from somebody else, but you won’t really appreciate it unless you struggle for it all and learned it first-hand. That is my mantra.

I strongly believe in standing up for myself and standing up for others from my country in the sport, so need be. They don’t necessarily appreciate that because I’m a female and females don’t get their due justice in this sport and in sports in general to be fair. Especially in the Caribbean they feel like you should just sit down, be quiet and be a yes ma’am.  You shouldn’t have an opinion. I don’t believe in that; If I believe A says A and you want to tell me A says B, I’m going to tell you no and I’m going to scream from the highest mountain. I don’t care how much you try to insult me or make fun of me or chastise me about it, I’m standing for what I believe in, and I will stand strong.

That’s just me being different, being and true to myself because before I did what people wanted me to do and be the way people wanted me to be. I wasn’t happy and it wasn’t fun, people just never saw it because I always had a smile on my face but inside, I was dying because I wasn’t being myself. I was trying to be who they wanted me to be when I could have been myself, I could have been different.

Who do you consider your biggest supporter, and why?

My biggest supporter would be my parents and my siblings, and that’s because they really have to be 😊. They are truly like my best friends because they know who I am and what I’ve been through. They were there when I wanted to stop athletics, when I cried and when I had to make big life decision. They have held my hand through it all and wiped my tears. When I had to get surgery, my boyfriend flew out to be there with me and my one of my teammates at that time took care of me. I was such a mess, and they were there for me. I am very grateful to them for that because they were with me at my lowest. They didn’t care that people weren’t screaming Anthonique in the stadium, that I wasn’t running 22s and I was no longer word junior champion. After my injuries the shoe companies didn’t stay, but they stayed and they are still here. They’ve been with me from diaper days, when I first became a professional athlete, when I didn’t even necessarily know myself and when I was discovering myself from a teenager to a junior athlete.

I appreciate them and love them to pieces. I don’t say it all the time, but they know. Even now if I need to talk, they will answer the phone. It doesn’t matter if I’m in a different country and I call at 2am, they will sit on that phone and talk to me until I feel better. I even speak to one of my cousins every time I go to a race, and have a little bit of anxiety, he could be at work and he will talk with me and tell me, “Girl you got this. You can do this”. This helps to take my mind off track and field aspect and talk about anything else, because I love to talk and will talk about with anything but my profession.

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