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Jul 26, 2020

"We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort." - Jesse Owens.

Tianna Bartoletta is no stranger to determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort. She won 9 high school state titles to match her idol from the same state of Ohio - Jesse Owens. She went to the University of Tennessee on a full academic scholarship. She became a world champion in the long jump at the age of 19. Over the next 12 years, she won 8 other global championship medals including 5 more golds. She is the reigning Olympic champion and hopes to defend that title in Tokyo next summer. 

Her journey, however, has been far from easy. From facing failure in high school to the ups and downs of a pro career where she questioned whether or not she would ever return to the top of her event, Chris and Shanna discuss it all with her in this episode. 

In particular, we dig into her perspective on clean sport as someone who was robbed of a gold medal (which has since been upgraded) from the 2006 World Indoor Championship. She talks about how that "disappointing" silver medal would lead her to make changes in her career that almost ended it. She also discusses how sponsors and the structure of contracts encourage doping in sport as well as the responsibility of athletes to comply with the whereabouts filing system. 

Beyond athletics, Tianna's voice is perhaps even more important as she stands up for what's right through her blog. This includes defying her sponsor to speak up for Mary Cain and the abuse she suffered as a member of the Nike Oregon Project. 

Tianna's energy in this discussion is infectious. Her advocacy for doing what's right - for clean sport and beyond - is strong and powerful. Her dreams extend well beyond the track, and we know that her idol Jesse Owens would be so proud of her.