16 Sep Interview with world record holder heptathlon Jente Hauttekeete
Despite his busy schedule, our world record holder Jente Hauttekeete made some time for an interview. The barely 20-year-old athlete continues to break records and we, as sponsors, are very proud of that! With a few records, Jente also holds a world record: in February 2021 in Frankfurt he improved the 11-year-old world record U20 in the heptathlon. In doing so, he became the first junior ever to accumulate more than 6,000 points. Recently, he became a trouble-free national champion in the decathlon. The athlete from KAAG totaled 7,722 points.
Jente, you are specialized in heptathlon. What exactly does that mean?
In the all-around, you have five trials a day, spread over two days. So you do a lot of parts of athletics in one day. You really have to be an all-rounder! Long jump, shot put, high jump, running, you name it.
Sounds tough! What else do you do besides heptathlon?
It’s tough, but the better you get the more fun it is to train. I’m studying to be a physical education teacher and exercise recreation. I train 14 to 16 hours a week, and also pack in 5 to 6 hours at school. This means that it will take me 5 years to complete my studies instead of 3. You win some, you lose some.
Nice quote. Do you have another motto you support?
Of course I do. As a top athlete your whole life revolves around one thing: competition. So I have to learn to deal with losing. I can’t always win. I certainly try to make time for other things. Meeting up with friends is sometimes more difficult, but I keep in touch thanks to social media. I’ve met a lot of new people through my sport and have also become closer with my brother. Back in the day, my brother and I often played sports together; we were quite big fans of our trampoline. We could play on it for hours. We got a stronger bond thanks to athletics. Eventually I also ended up in that world through my parents when I was about 6 years old – I was often just a bit better than the others and sometimes I ended up on the podium. Where I am now, I owe mainly to my family.
“Where I am now,
I owe mainly to my family”
Getting back to the sport itself – what is your power food for a competition?
I focus on carbs and sugars. A heptathlon is an incredibly long event where your whole body is used. Getting as much energy in as possible is important. I think of pasta with spaghetti sauce, cookies from the bakery with quick sugars, gingerbread cookies, sports bars. I also have to start drinking more water a week in advance – my urine has to be mojito-colored.
Of course, with top sport comes attention. How do you deal with this interest?
It’s definitely something new for me. I’ve always focused on the sport itself and not so much on everything that comes with it. I get a lot of attention from Sporza Radio, Sportweekend and things like that. With my world record I was in the newspaper. That remains very crazy!
Your world record will definitely stay with you forever. Are there any moments you will never forget?
The first day when I was at the European Championships. I remember very well that I got goose bumps. I never expected to win the European Championship. I will also never forget my first gold medal. It was my first Belgian title, in the ‘Kadetten’ when I was 15 to 16 years old. That moment will always stay with me.
My world record in heptathlon too of course, that doesn’t even need to be said. Also when I got a silver medal at the World Athletics Championships in 2021 remains with me. It was still a bit of a disappointment. I trained very hard to win so I only feel happiness with my results.
The past is nice to look back on, but the future is also important. Where do you want to go now that doors are all opening for you?
I definitely want to continue in athletics. I have set my goals on the Summer Olympics in Paris in 2024 and the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in 2028. I want to finish college in 2023 and then take a sabbatical year. After my athletics career, maybe after LA in 2028, I would like to work as a trainer.
Do you have any plans to achieve those goals?
Getting into the Olympics is not something you do lightly, of course. I’m working on it a lot though and I really see it happening. I put my hurdles higher, I increase the weight of my bullet and discus. The limit differs every year, but I make sure I keep challenging myself.
What is a no-go as an athlete?
For an athlete, everything has to be in moderation. It’s possible, there’s no harm in that, but you can’t have many outliers. I also have to watch my diet very closely. I go to a dietician for a nutrition plan and use Etixx sportnutrition. In principle, alcohol is also not allowed.
So hangovers are out of the question for you?
In principle, no. I also have rest periods – they last 3 weeks. School goes on as usual. During this time I can still have a beer at parties.
We as Kappa Data have been sponsoring you for a while now. How do you feel about this?
I feel mostly amazement, of course. I know that sponsorship is part of top sport, but it feels a bit unreal to have to deal with it myself. It mainly gives me extra motivation to train more!
Do you have some tips for beginning athletes, for our readers who might want to start with sports or athletics?
The most important thing is not to do too much right away. Especially when you’re just starting out you’re very enthusiastic and want to go flat out, but it’s more important to take it easy to prevent injuries. At a normal pace, there is also a much greater chance that you keep up the sport, because you do those 5 times a week once and then probably never again. So perseverance is the message, because you will automatically become better at what you do.
In addition, sometimes you have to make sacrifices. Leave the cookies and grab a piece of fruit. You use your body in a very intensive way, so you have to take good care of it.
Furthermore, good guidance and good materials are very important. As a beginning athlete there is a big chance that you don’t know what you are doing. At such a moment a good coach can help you enormously.
Thanks Jente for this interesting conversation!
Patrick Casteels, Managing Partner Kappa Data: ‘Melanie Moreels, Jente’s mom, has been a loyal and faithful employee in the Kappa Data purchasing department for many years. We were surprised to hear that such a promise is barely given resources to develop. We are therefore particularly pleased to be able to contribute with this sponsorship. Our ultimate dream is of course to see Jente shine at the Olympics one day. We wish him all the best!’