World indoor pentathlon champion Nadine Broersen is a passionate devotee of her sport. The 24-year-old Dutch athlete gives SPIKES her words of wisdom.

1. Don't be surprised if you surprise yourself

“I used to be realistic, probably too realistic. My coach really helped me understand that it's really hard to predict athletic progress and that you can achieve greater things than you ever thought possible.

“Before I trained with my current coach, I did not believe I could perform to a much higher standard and as a consequence I didn't. Now I know that crazy things can happen in a season or even during the course of one competition.

“I am not saying the sky is the limit, I am just saying you don't know what the limit is. Be prepared that magical things can happen in athletics, which cannot always be logically explained.”

Nadine Broersen ()

Broersen surprised most people, though maybe not herself, when she bagged pentathlon gold at the Sopot indoors last year

2. The sport should be fun

“I started athletics just for fun as a little girl. Over time I improved and suddenly I’m preparing for major competitions with big goals and ambitions and what was once a hobby is now my job. It was important for me to realise that, despite performing internationally and setting big goals, athletics had to remain fun.

“Obviously you are trying to accomplish something every day, but what is really important to me is to remember to enjoy every single day, every single session, every single jump.

“Running over hurdles, jumping over bars and throwing a javelin is incredible fun! Always remember to retain that same feeling that you first experienced when starting out athletics as a little boy or girl.”

Nadine Broersen ()

“You are trying to accomplish something every day, but what is really important to me is to remember to enjoy every single day.”

3. Stubbornness can be a virtue

“I promise I am usually a nice person, but I do have a stubborn streak – especially if things do not go the way I want them to. Yet to be a little stubborn as an athlete is not always the worst character trait. Sometimes it is a way of fixing problems and improving.

“I will sometimes frustrate the stadium manager who wants to turn out the lights at the track, but I am still out in the middle throwing the shot. I don't settle for okay and sometimes that's the way to change things around.

“Luckily, my husband, family, friends, coach and training partners know that is my personality and that I set high standards. They know I'm fighting a fight with myself – not with anybody else.”