Torita Isaac: Australian Paralympian Breaks 800m World Record

Torita Isaac: Australian Paralympian Breaks 800m World Record

Interview by Curtis Sutton & Declan Holt

Torita Isaac is a young Australian athlete with an already impressive list of accomplishments, however her recent world record breaking time of 2.35.26s in the 800m T38 event has brought her name to the forefront of junior Paralympic track and field.

Torita began competing in 2010 and two years later made her international debut at the London Paralympics Games in 2012.

Inspired by Cathy Freeman, she pursued competition running and has represented her country in the 100 metre, 200 metre and 4 x 100m events.

Initially classed as a T13 (vision impaired) competitor, Isaac now competes under a TF38 classification, which reflects her added disability, cerebral palsy. She is ranked fifth in the world in her class.

How did you feel after you realised you had broken the world record for the 800m? 

I really did the 800m as a challenge for myself.  I have really been training for the 400m and the 200m.  I ran an 800 the previous week but went too fast too early and had to pull out of the race before the finish.  During the week my coach worked on my pacing and set me a schedule aimed at breaking the record. Thankfully this time I stuck to the schedule and ended up breaking the record.  We thought we had broken the record but weren’t sure until the official times came out.  I was on the start line for the 200m when my coach gave me the news.  I was really excited but at the same time it didn’t seem real.  It wasn’t until after my completion was finished for the day that it really sunk in.  But it was back to training the next day.

I am sure this has been a highlight in your career, as with competing in the 2012 Paralympics. Were you excited to be selected to compete at the Paralympics? What was your favourite part of competing there?

At the time of the Paralympic Games in London I was only 17 so it was really a bit overwhelming.  I was also having some major injury issues at the time so my focus was on getting to the start line and not necessarily on the event.  In addition I thought I was only being taken as a relay runner so was surprised and a little nervous to be selected to do the individual 100m and 200m when we got over there.  Overall it was a fantastic experience to get to the final of both the individual events and to almost medal in the relay. My absolute favourite part was to stand on the start line in front of the huge crowd and to compete for my country.  It was also exciting to be interviewed by ABC TV after the race and have all my family and friends watching.

What was your strategy going into the race?

My coach and I had worked on my pacing during the week leading up to the record so we knew if I ran well and to the schedule we had set that I could break the record.  My coach was in the back straight to let me know whether I was on target.  Thankfully I hit each target split and was able to record a time under the world record.


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