Men’s Journal’s Everyday Warrior With Mike Sarraille is a new podcast that inspires individuals to live more fulfilling lives by having conversations with disrupters and high performers in all walks of life. In our sixth episode, we talked to Anicka Newell, 2x Olympian and professional pole vaulter.

In the interview, Newell talks about how she got into pole vaulting, why she represents Canada (she has dual citizenship in the U.S., too), and the diet and exercise regimen that keeps her at the top of her pole-vaulting game.

Listen to the full episode above (scroll down for the transcript) and see more from this series below.

This episode was recorded in front of a live audience; it has not been edited for length or clarity.

Mike Sarraille:

Welcome to the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior podcast. I’m your host, Mike Sarraille. This week, we have a great guest, Anicka Newell also known as Fly Girl on social media. Anicka is an everyday warrior in her own right. A two time Olympian for Canada competing in the pole vault. Her story is one that we can all take inspiration from. This woman is a fighter. Her performance at the last Olympics didn’t go the way she envisioned it would. We talk about how she’s reset and become more disciplined and committed with a laser focus to medal at the Paris Olympics in 2024. After you get to know her, I would not bet against her. I’m excited to watch her grow and compete over the next few years. This episode was recorded in front of a live audience at Whiskey Tango Foxtrot in Austin, Texas. And without further ado, here’s my interview with Anicka Newell.
And welcome to the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior podcast with your host, me Mike Sarraille. And I’ve got a great guest Anicka, which I’ve been struggling with her name all day. It was Anicka and she didn’t even like correct me, but when she would pronounce it, I would get it. Anicka Newell, who is a total stud, an everyday warrior in her own right. Two time Olympian for Canada, which we’re going to forgive you for that one.

Anicka Newell:

Thanks.

Mike Sarraille:

But I mean, so you are a dual citizen.

Anicka Newell:

I am.

Mike Sarraille:

The USA and in Canada.

Anicka Newell:

Yep.

Mike Sarraille:

Okay. Right on. Let’s dive right in.

Anicka Newell:

Okay. Let’s do it.

Mike Sarraille:

We did get a workout in earlier, which I got to tell you, that’s the first time I’ve sprinted in God knows how long, I can’t even remember.

Anicka Newell:

I’m not going to lie. I was a little worried about your hip today.

Mike Sarraille: Y

eah, yeah. I went immediately to a nice bath when I got home.

Anicka Newell:

I saw that. Good for you.

Mike Sarraille:

Thank you. Thank you. I will be hitting the ice bath all the way until I leave for Florida on Sunday for skydiving, but Anicka I want to get into, let’s go back into your youth.

Anicka Newell:

Okay.

Mike Sarraille:

So, where did you start?

Anicka Newell:

Take it back.

Mike Sarraille:
Middle? Beginning? End?

Anicka Newell:
Well, I was raised in New Mexico actually. And so that’s where I did sports and athletics and found my love for track and field. From there I got a scholarship to Texas State University, which is how I ended up in Texas. Fulfilled my whole four years of eligibility and then turned pro after that.

Mike Sarraille:
But you were born in Texas, is that correct?

Anicka Newell:
I was born in Texas.

Mike Sarraille:
And then at what age did you move to Albuquerque?

Anicka Newell:
Like three weeks.

Mike Sarraille:
No. Are you kidding me?

Anicka Newell:
I’m not kidding.

Mike Sarraille:
So, your parents moved there?

Anicka Newell:
Moved right away. Yeah. Well, my dad had a job and so I just picked up everything I went.

Mike Sarraille:
And you spent your entire grammar school, elementary, high school in New Mexico?

Anicka Newell:
Yep, in Albuquerque.

Mike Sarraille:
And you were a state champ in multiple events, is that correct?

Anicka Newell:
I was, yes.

Mike Sarraille:
What sports did you grow up playing or was it always just sort of track?

Anicka Newell:
It was not always track. My dad is very athletic and he always wanted me to be a runner, like a distance runner, but I did gymnastics for about 10 years, had a serious back injury that took me out from that, which is probably for the best because I’m way too tall for it now. But then after that I started track and field didn’t, take much to the distance running. So I tried sprinting, long jumping, hurdling. And then my coach one day said, “Hey, you’re a gymnast. Like let’s try you in the pole vault.” And I guess the rest is history. That was the best decision in my life.

Mike Sarraille:
Did you pick that up pretty quickly or was that a struggle?

Anicka Newell:
It was a struggle in the sense that New Mexico didn’t have very good pole vaulting coaches that didn’t know a whole lot about the event. So I actually went back to Texas to do training camps, my junior and senior year of high school to learn a little bit more about pole vault. And that’s what really kind of boosted me and excelled me.

Mike Sarraille Was that during the summer?

Anicka Newell:
Yes.

Mike Sarraille:
Okay. But you still were a national champ or I’m sorry, a state champ in three events, is that correct?

Anicka Newell:
Not to throw any shade on New Mexico, but the athletics are not quite up to par with Texas athletics. So yes, I was a state champ, but that’s honestly not saying that much.

Mike Sarraille:
Hey, when you’re a state champ, you’re a state champ. Am I right?

Anicka Newell:
I mean, I’ll take the title.

Mike Sarraille:
It doesn’t matter. Trust me, you were a lot closer to being a state champ in any event than I ever was in high school. I was really good at drinking.

Anicka Newell:
Okay.

Mike Sarraille:
I was really good at drinking partying, and I did have a reputation at parties of jumping into the pool.

Anicka Newell:
Oh, there you go. That’s an event.

Mike Sarraille:
I know, I know.

Anicka Newell:
Could have done long jump.

Mike Sarraille:
So little about your parents.

Anicka Newell:
Okay.

Mike Sarraille:
So your mom was born in Canada?

Anicka Newell:
Yes.

Mike Sarraille:
Is that correct?

Anicka Newell:
My mom is full maple blooded Canadian.

Mike Sarraille:
Who’s in across the border. Yeah. Okay. And at what age did she move to the U.S?

Anicka Newell:
That’s a good question, actually. It would’ve been close to when they were going to have me actually, because my dad was in the states and they met in France.

Mike Sarraille:
No kidding.

Anicka Newell:
So nice little cute love story there.

Mike Sarraille:
What’s the background behind that? They just were both on vacation and they met?

Anicka Newell:
I think my mom was doing some work there or like a TA job or something like that. They’re both fluent in French. And so I think my dad was on vacation and they met.

Mike Sarraille:
So that basic question, are you fluent in French?

Anicka Newell:
I’m not, they did not teach it to me. I’m working on it. So that by the time that the Paris 2024 Olympics rolls around, I can speak it.

Mike Sarraille:
There you go. And that’s the next goal, correct?

Anicka Newell:
We.

Mike Sarraille:
All right. Well, okay. So a foreign love story. She basically moves to the U.S, marries your father.

Anicka Newell:
Yes.

Mike Sarraille:
And the rest is history.

Anicka Newell:
The rest is history.

Mike Sarraille:
Does the timeline work out where you were born? I mean, is it nine months after she moved to the U.S or was it nine months from France?

Anicka Newell:
You know what? My parents aren’t really like that open and talkative. I don’t actually know the answer to that. I think they’d be pretty embarrassed to tell me too.

Mike Sarraille:
It’s Hey, love is love. It’s no place to judge. And you are the oldest?

Anicka Newell:
I’m the oldest.

Mike Sarraille:
And you have a younger brother named Tim. Is that correct?

Anicka Newell:
Alex.

Mike Sarraille:
Or no, I’m sorry, Alex?

Anicka Newell:
Yes.

Mike Sarraille:
Alex. What does Alex do?

Anicka Newell:
Well, he played soccer. He was very good. He came actually to Southwestern, a soccer scholarship. So he’s very athletic himself. But growing up, I always picked on him a lot.

Mike Sarraille:
You just said Southwestern, was it Southwestern?

Anicka Newell:
In Georgetown, right?

Mike Sarraille:
In Georgetown. Oh, okay. Okay. We’re looking this route.

Anicka Newell:
A direction. Southwestern, yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
What was Texas state? Because Texas state changed their name.

Anicka Newell:
That was Southwest Texas state.

Mike Sarraille:
Southwest, Texas state?

Anicka Newell:
Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
Okay. So total athletic family. Did you play soccer yourself?

Anicka Newell:
No. I left that to him.

Mike Sarraille:
You left that to him?

Anicka Newell:
Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
Who’s the bigger stud? You or your brother?

Anicka Newell:
Me. Obviously.

Mike Sarraille:
Good. Good. Okay. So how many colleges were you talking to?

Anicka Newell:
Several. Quite a few. And it was at the end it was going to be between University of Arkansas or Texas state.

Mike Sarraille:
What was it that drew you to Texas state over Arkansas? Because I mean, Arkansas is a powerhouse, isn’t it?

Anicka Newell:
It is. It absolutely is. And they have a great pole vault system there, but I loved the river running right through campus at Texas state and I loved the pole vault coach.

Mike Sarraille:
There you go. It’s the system that they had worked for you?

Anicka Newell:
Yes.

Mike Sarraille:
The location?

Anicka Newell:
Yes. Absolutely.

Mike Sarraille:
Because I did my college at college station and I was, yeah, let’s just say that was not the same experience as San Marcos.

Anicka Newell:
Probably not.

Mike Sarraille:
No. I finished college in three years and got the hell out of there. So, how did you enjoy Texas state?

Anicka Newell:
Oh, I loved it. It was, I had a great time, had a great experience. Especially because of the team that I was on at the time. And the coaching that I had, it was spectacular.

Mike Sarraille:
Did you enjoy yourself?

Anicka Newell:
Yeah, no. First couple years partied way too hard, but it was a great time. So, if you’re looking for a party of school, Texas state, I think it’s pretty up there on top of the college list.

Mike Sarraille:
You excelled in three specific events, but you told me earlier when you sort of checked into Texas state, the coached said, “Hey, we want you to focus on pole vault.”

Anicka Newell:
Yep. They wanted me to be an event or a event specific athlete.

Mike Sarraille:
How did you take that?

Anicka Newell:
I mean, at first I was really upset because I’ve done so many events and so much training my entire life. It seemed like one event was like one, just one, but it ended up being a blessing in disguise because I was able to focus on that and really grow my love for pole vault.

Mike Sarraille:
Did you push back against the coaches when they asked you to do that?

Anicka Newell:
Not really. Because they were giving me money and I felt like pushback could have ended poorly. So, I just kept my mouth shut and did what they asked.

Mike Sarraille:
So you just poured into the pole vault?

Anicka Newell:
I did, yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
Okay. Beyond just the collegiate athletics and focusing with Texas state. Were you still doing camps? Were you still working with other people outside the university in your off time?

Anicka Newell:
Yes. Yep. I pretty much have been coaching for just as long as I’ve been pole vaulting now about 10 years at Elite Sports in San Antonio. So, I’ve been coaching all types of kids for years now and I love it.

Mike Sarraille:
So you were even doing that when you were in college?

Anicka Newell:
Even doing that when I was in college. Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
That’s interesting because in the military, at some point you’ve got to go back and you got to be in charge of training. Did you feel like you learned more coaching?

Anicka Newell:
Yes. Way more coaching. I’d find myself like yelling at an athlete to do something and then like, wait a minute. I do that shit. I maybe should practice what I preach. And so into my practices, I was like, okay. I just told my kid to do this. I better do it too.

Mike Sarraille:
And did you feel like when you were coaching, it reinforced the fundamentals that maybe you overlooked, you just, it was muscle memory and you’re like, okay, now I realize why.

Anicka Newell:
Yes. Absolutely. I mean, every day is you’re learning more and more about the event about the sport. So I feel like it was really helpful for me coaching because I was able to understand concepts that I might not have been able to had I not been coaching.

Mike Sarraille:
As you say that now being a two time Olympian, do you still feel like you’re learning something new every day growing?

Anicka Newell:
Yes. Oh absolutely. I mean, you can never learn enough really. I feel like you always have to be a student of the sport. You can’t ever feel like you’ve learned at all. So I’m constantly trying to evolve and understand what I can do better.

Mike Sarraille:
So, we did read because we do research and we also call people in your life to get the unadulterated truth. I’m joking. We don’t do that. We don’t have the time, that you were a bit of a diva while you were a student at Texas state.

Anicka Newell:
I had a little attitude problem. It’s much better now, I’ve matured. I’ve worked on it, seen a therapist. We’re good.

Mike Sarraille:
If we’d asked people in your life, are you still a diva? What do you think they would say?

Anicka Newell:
Absolutely.

Mike Sarraille:
Absolutely? What is it, because you have a very unique style.

Anicka Newell:
I do.

Mike Sarraille:
Did the tattoos start during college or was that a post-college thing?

Anicka Newell:
No, that was a pre-college thing. Started by being just a very rebellious child.

Mike Sarraille:
If I asked your parents, if your parents were here right now, would they say, yeah, she was a lot to deal with.

Anicka Newell:
Oh, I don’t know because I don’t think they know the extent of what they were dealing with. So I think they were pretty naive to the majority of it. So I think I was a good kid on the surface.

Mike Sarraille:
I don’t think my parents would say that, but a certain degree of rebellioness is I’ve always appreciated that. What I say in the seal teams is we almost bred a healthy disrespect for authority.

Anicka Newell:
Okay.

Mike Sarraille:
And it served our guys well, because it allowed them to push outside or color outside the lines.

Anicka Newell:
I can understand that.

Mike Sarraille:
We almost promoted that within our culture.

Anicka Newell:
I can appreciate that for sure. I’m trying to like think of me as a coach and my athletes disrespecting me and I’m going to shut that down real quick.

Mike Sarraille:
Yeah, it’s amazing how those roles change is, you push back against your coaches, but the second you become one, you expect people to get in line.

Anicka Newell:
Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
Okay. We’ve all been there. So when you graduated, well let’s step back. Was Rio post graduation or was that while you were still?

Anicka Newell:
It was right after I graduated. I mean within three months of my graduation.

Mike Sarraille:
Three months of your graduation. So tell me the process of when you started talking to Canada or competing to win a slot on the team?

Anicka Newell:
So in 2016, I was already done with my eligibility with Texas state and my pole vault coach had said, “Do you want to try and go pro this year?” And I hadn’t thought of it until then. I honestly had not. And I was like, “You know what, let’s give it a shot.” So we trained our asses off all year and hit the qualification standard. And so started trying to figure out our channels, whether I was going to decide to go U.S or Canada, because ultimately I was able to make that decision. And so I went through Canada and then we were talking to the coaching staff and everybody that we needed to make sure that I had all my eligibility with that. Had my passport and everything up to date and was able to essentially compete for the Canadian team.

Mike Sarraille:
Similar to selecting the college. Were you looking at both coaching staffs where you felt more comfortable?

Anicka Newell:
It’s not necessarily the coaching staff because you pretty much maintain the coach that you have that you work with regularly. It’s more so about the opportunity. I was just going to see a lot more opportunities competing for Canada than I would the U.S. Solely based off of the U.S has so many athletes and they have to give opportunities, equal opportunity to all of them. Whereas with Canada, there’s not quite as many. So, I would receive a lot more attention, I guess that’s just the diva in me, again.

Mike Sarraille:
So Rio was three months after your graduation?

Anicka Newell:
Yeah, I get May, June, July. Okay. So I guess four.

Mike Sarraille:
Four. Did you have to go train in Canada with the team?

Anicka Newell:
I just had to show up for the national championships. So, or excuse me, the Olympic trials actually, show up in place first or second at the Olympic trials. And that would guarantee me a spot on the Olympic team.

Mike Sarraille:
And you finished?

Anicka Newell:
I finished second.

Mike Sarraille:
But, you did set a national record for Canada, at 15 feet and 3 inches.

Anicka Newell:
Yes. And it was unofficial because it was not a sanction competition, which really stinks, but is what it is.

Mike Sarraille:
Who finished first?

Anicka Newell:
My teammate, Alicia Newman.

Mike Sarraille:
Ah, and you and Alicia are very competitive from what we’ve read.

Anicka Newell:
We are extremely competitive. I love the girl to death, but hell yeah, I want to beat her.

Mike Sarraille:
Okay. Is she still in the sport?

Anicka Newell:
Yeah, she is.

Mike Sarraille:
Okay. Do you guys talk much?

Anicka Newell:
Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
You do? Okay.

Anicka Newell:
We’re good friends.

Mike Sarraille:
Good friends, but you have that healthy?

Anicka Newell:
Frenemies.

Mike Sarraille:
Healthy, competitive rivalry going on.

Anicka Newell:
Yes, exactly.

Mike Sarraille:
Okay. Good. Do you guys ever trade best practices?

Anicka Newell:
We do. I mean, when I go to Canada sometimes for training camps and training sessions and her and her coach are both very good and well established there. And so I’ll go and train with them and have pole vault sessions with them. And I think that, that’s great because we really push each other.

Mike Sarraille:
When you made that leap from collegiate athletics to pro, was that a leap? Was it scary or were you pretty much in the range anyways?

Anicka Newell:
I mean, it wasn’t necessarily scary. The scary part I’d say, scary part was actually just going to the Olympics, because that was just the biggest like arena and stage I had ever been on in my life. But besides that, after that it’s been like a learning experience and each competition is different and you don’t get to show up with your whole team, dressed in Texas state maroon and gold. Like you just show up there by yourself and you’re there to compete.

Mike Sarraille:
So, I’ve got to ask what is the feeling during those opening ceremonies? I mean, do you even remember it or was so overwhelming?

Anicka Newell:
It’s very vivid for me. I mean the best memory I ever had was walking kind of, you walk through these tunnels under the arena and you can just feel the vibration.

Mike Sarraille:
Okay.

Anicka Newell:
Like the noise and you walk out and it’s just like roaring and fire goes off and like cannons and stuff. I mean, it’s just, it’s wild and you walk out there and the women’s pole vault and you just get like the goosies and you’re looking around like star struck.

Mike Sarraille:
Is that intimidating in a sense like, oh, oh, oh shit.

Anicka Newell:
At the first Olympics, it was at the second I was in my zone. I was ready to go.

Mike Sarraille:
No kidding. And let’s talk about Rio.

Anicka Newell:
Okay.

Mike Sarraille:
Because we did have an interesting question, but we’ll get to that one from our viewers, did you feel like you were prepared?

Anicka Newell:
Not in the slightest.

Mike Sarraille:
Not in the slightest?

Anicka Newell:
No.

Mike Sarraille:
Why was that?

Anicka Newell:
I was just young and it was my first year pro and I had not been to any other international competitions at all. It was my first one ever. And it was the freaking Olympics. Like the pinnacle of sport. So I walked out there and I mean, my throat was like, I absolutely choked.

Mike Sarraille:
And how old were you at the time?

Anicka Newell:
21.

Mike Sarraille:
Good Lord. 21. And so you’re probably standing now next to people, maybe you looked up to within the sport? Like, oh my God.

Anicka Newell:
Yes. Yeah. Some of my pole vaulting idols for sure.

Mike Sarraille:
Did you talk to a lot of them?

Anicka Newell:
Well, a lot of times on those competitions, the girls don’t really aren’t that talkative because they’re pretty serious and pretty focused. I’m pretty talkative. So, I did try and engage

\and I got shut down a couple times, but yeah, it was still fun.

Mike Sarraille:
How about it afterwards when the competition’s over, do they act normal?

Anicka Newell:
Oh yeah. No, afterwards it was really enjoyable. I got to meet a lot of the girls and get to know them and their personalities came out. It was fun.

Mike Sarraille:
If you’re 21, what’s the average age of a female pole vaulter olympian competing?

Anicka Newell:
I’m not sure about the average, but some of the best pole vaulters are typically around 28 to 32 kind. That’s kind of the sweet spot for maturity and just understanding of the sport.

Mike Sarraille:
That’s that’s insane. Yeah. So you’re a young.

Anicka Newell:
Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
And were they a little dismissive at time?

Anicka Newell:
Oh yeah,

Mike Sarraille:
Yeah. Yeah. Well, I’m sure that’s part of their psyche of, yeah. Getting in your head. Did any of those that you looked up to, did they provide any mentorship at the end? Any advice?

Anicka Newell:
At the end? Yes. And throughout the years, even. I’ve been able to talk to them and get to know them. And if I need something, I can call somebody up and say, “Hey, I’m struggling with this. How can you help me?” Or, “What’s your advice on this issue?” And they’re happy to give it.

Mike Sarraille:
Especially, I’m sure when they’re no longer competing in the Olympics, they become a little more.

Anicka Newell:
Well, some of them still are.

Mike Sarraille:
Yeah. Oh no, no. I know that. I’m just saying for some of them.

Anicka Newell:
Oh, but yes, not during the competition. They don’t want to give you any advice. They do not want you to beat them.

Mike Sarraille:
Hey, even though we’re competitive and we were within special operations, we were highly competitive, but you just always respect a competitor. Who’s the competitor you respect the most in the sport?

Anicka Newell:
I’d say one of the most respected pole vaulters in the sport has to be Katie Nageotte. She’s a really good friend of mine. She’s a U.S Vaulter. One of the most humble, sweet individuals I’ve ever met. And that girl is a competitor for sure. And she worked her ass off to get where she is. And she was one of those girls who was not afraid to be real and post on Instagram the struggle she was going through, but also the fight she was willing to give.

Mike Sarraille:
So basically her vulnerability is what you respect most?

Anicka Newell:
Absolutely. Yes.

Mike Sarraille:
We talk about that often. In fact, I was on a podcast yesterday with a gentleman who’s writing a book about leadership and vulnerability. I don’t know why vulnerability is looked at as a weakness. It’s the most morally courageous thing you can do. Now, there is a difference though. Let me like between being vulnerable and being a victim.

Anicka Newell:
Yes.

Mike Sarraille:
Those are two completely different things.

Anicka Newell:
Absolutely.

Mike Sarraille:
And you showed, and I know we’re going to get to it, you showed a great degree of vulnerability after these recent Olympics and maybe not the performance that you had wished. And I want to say that. So the question we got about the Olympics as a whole and particularly Rio, because we know Tokyo was, you competed and had to leave right away due to the COVID restrictions.

Anicka Newell:
Yes.

Mike Sarraille:
Is the Olympic village really a, I’m looking for the words an orgy was the question that I got, and it said something like they passed out something like 100,000 condoms amongst the athletes.

Anicka Newell:
That may be true. Don’t totally remember. Yeah. It could be around that number.

Mike Sarraille:
If you had your own sort of hypothesis or theory, is it the stress? What is it that makes the Olympic village a, let’s just say a party.

Anicka Newell:
It’s the buildup. I mean, it’s four years until each Olympics and I mean, you just, you work so damn hard for it. And that whole entire year for 365 days, you’re counting it down until the day that you compete. And when you finally do, whether it goes good or bad, it’s like, I mean just the biggest sigh of relief afterwards. You just can’t even believe what you just performed or what you did. And so you just relax. You let loose.

Mike Sarraille:
I’m trying to remember, wasn’t there an American swimmer that got arrested in Rio afterwards and he got just, just filled by media, but it’s funny, media will jump all over you, not knowing what you guys go through. And the guy was probably just letting loose. I think he was done competing.

Anicka Newell:
You know what? He probably was letting loose, but there’s, there’s a ways to do it that are a lot smarter than the way that he did it, for sure.

Mike Sarraille:
Agreed.

Anicka Newell:
And safer, especially in a country that you don’t know. So he could have done it a little bit more responsibly, but hey.

Mike Sarraille:
A lot to be said about the seal teams and how those guys let loose but I’ll refrain from those stories. They remain hidden.

Anicka Newell:
It was a good time.

Mike Sarraille:
Oh, I have no doubt. Did you stick around afterwards? Did you do a little sight seeing or no? Did you come back?

Anicka Newell:
Oh yeah. No. In Rio I got to do all the sight seeing. I went to the beaches. Oh my, I did everything just about. It was so much fun and my family was there, which made it all the more special and we got to go and see them and explore around Rio with my family. And that was awesome.

Mike Sarraille:
Now, did you have to go back to Canada to do like a post Olympic tour TV circuit?

Anicka Newell:
There was something. They always host a party for the athletes after back in Canada, it’s optional. And at the time I was pretty much just ready to come home and spend some time back in Texas, actually.

Mike Sarraille:
Did you stop training? Did you take a few weeks off after Rio?

Anicka Newell:
After Rio? Yes. But years after that, after a big event, you keep competing actually for several weeks. Which is really difficult because you’ve just come off such a big high, and then you have to keep training after that. And it’s tough. Takes a toll on your body for sure. And your psyche. But so like last year I trained for a couple weeks after the Olympics and then decided to shut it down. Just my body was not right to handle it.

Mike Sarraille:
Got it. Got it. Let me ask you this. If you look back on your time, was there a specific lesson that you took from Rio that you were going to implement into your life or training afterwards? I mean, what was the realization having competed at that level for the first time?

Anicka Newell:
I mean, how nervous I was walking out into that arena. I promised myself from that day, I was like, “I’ll never show up to a competition feeling like this ever again.” Like I’m going to walk out, like, excuse me, but a bad next time. So this will never happen to me again.

Mike Sarraille:
Okay. So, I’ve never seen the pictures. Did you shave your head like you do now back then?

Anicka Newell:
This was an accident.

Mike Sarraille:
It was an accident.

Anicka Newell:
It was an accident.

Mike Sarraille:
Okay. Let’s get into this, let’s shift focus. When did this accident? I’m using air quotes here. When did this ‘accident’ happen?

Anicka Newell:
I was my hair stylist, we were bleaching my hair. I was trying to go like this beautiful strawberry blonde.

Mike Sarraille:
But post or pre?

Anicka Newell:
Oh, post.

Mike Sarraille:
Post.

Anicka Newell:
Yeah. And this was gosh, probably in like 2017, 2018. And the bleach, it just reacted my hair poorly and this whole side just fell off. My hair just fell off. Luckily, luckily we just made lemons out of or lemonade out of lemons that day. I was like, you know what? I’ll just rock it. Let’s shave it. Do it.

Mike Sarraille:
I have that same problem. Except I bleached my head and I never came back. I should have entered into litigation with that company, but Hey, I’m not about holding other people at fault. So it’s okay. When that happened, and you saw that, did that become part of your identity? You’re like, Hey, this is my, this is my, and I’m going to use the words, my bad bitch identity?

Anicka Newell:
It did. It kind of did. I mean, I do feel like I have a bit of an edgy look, especially in the pole vault world. So, I like to look intimidating when I come onto the runway or step into competitions, because I want to intimidate the competition. I want to look like I’m going to beat you one way or the other either on or off the track.

Mike Sarraille:
And I’m all about intimidating competition. But for you personally, I mean, Hey, let’s be honest. We all have things we do. Did it make you feel more confident? Like this was your thing. This is who I am.

Anicka Newell:
Well, it took a while to get used to at first but now.

Mike Sarraille:
And what did the parents say?

Anicka Newell:
Pardon?

Mike Sarraille:
Did the parents have a comment or two?

Anicka Newell:
I mean, my mom was like, “Oh it’s cool. It’s unique.”

Mike Sarraille:
Okay.

Anicka Newell:
So they were about it. I mean.

Mike Sarraille:
All right. And so the sleeve tattoo you had that. When did that start and when did that end?

Anicka Newell:
Oh gosh. I mean, it started in college, but it is still a work in progress. To be honest, if you’re going to get a sleeve, do it all at once. Make sure you have all the money for it. That’s my advice.

Mike Sarraille:
I actually, my first tattoo I’m going to date myself here is 1996. I think that puts you at the age of three.

Anicka Newell:
Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
Well, I was a brand new freshman at the University of Colorado, so I got the buffalos.

Anicka Newell:
Okay.

Mike Sarraille:
So I still have a…

Anicka Newell:
So you have a buffalo tattoo?

Mike Sarraille:
On my back.

Anicka Newell:
Okay.

Mike Sarraille:
And I remember, I’d come home… I come from a very strict Catholic family. My dad is a very intimidating guy.

Anicka Newell:
This went well.

Mike Sarraille:
My wife laughs because he still intimidates the hell out of me. If I see him calling, if I know I’m in trouble, I just won’t answer. But hey, sometimes that’s just strong families. But, I remember I’d come home for my sister’s wedding and I had my girlfriend with me and of course, we all had her own hotel rooms and I had my shirt off. I’m wasted at the end of the night. And I thought it was my brother knocking the door. So, I just opened the door, turn around and start walking back to the bed and all I feel are these hands come around my neck.

Anicka Newell:
Oh.

Mike Sarraille:
And forced me right down onto the bed and my girlfriend screaming. And he lets up. And that was the beginning of the end at the time for my dad, until I joined the Marine Corps and we reunited. So, one tattoo and the after effects. Yeah. That sort of killed tattoos though. I am contemplating a sleeve. My dad’s getting old, he’s 75. I don’t think he can do much now. So maybe it’s time.

Anicka Newell:
Just wear long sleeve shirts around him.

Mike Sarraille:
That’s that’s what I thought. I had his shirt on, it was on my shoulder blade, but what are the odds? So, we come back from Rio, you’re out of college. I mean, this is the struggle I always hear about Olympic athletes. It’s like, Hey, if you want us to be really good at our craft, we have to focus full time. Yet, it’s so hard to sustain yourself from a financial standpoint.

Anicka Newell:
Absolutely.

Mike Sarraille:
So you just dive right back into training. I mean, are you holding jobs on the side or is the coaching giving you, I mean, some salary?

Anicka Newell:
Coaching gives me some salary for sure. And then while I’m training, I try and do a lot with certain companies that will help me out financially or getting financial aid, actually through athletics, Canada. They try and support their athletes the best that they can. Which is really helpful on a month to month basis. But I mean, they can really only do so much. And then I just would take odd jobs or modeling stuff or social media and just do the best that I could.

Mike Sarraille:
Does that piss off a lot of Olympic athletes? Because, we’re all behind you when the Olympics are on. And then when it’s over, it’s like, yeah. Awesome.

Anicka Newell:
It does. But I think for the most part, we’re all understanding. It is just the way the world works and unfortunately the sport and the world only cares about our marks on that day. It doesn’t care about the work that we do during the week. Doesn’t care about the work that we did throughout the year to prepare for this one singular day. So like all that stuff is the behind the scenes that nobody else sees.

Mike Sarraille:
What do you think about collegiate athletes now taking sponsorships in that?

Anicka Newell:
Excuse me for one moment. Fuck them. Oh my gosh. I’m so mad. I wish that rule had been like around since I was in college that would’ve been great, but I’m seeing all these little girls like doing all this social media posting. Part of me is really happy for them. And the other part of me is like, well, they’re going to ruin themselves if they just keep taking every opportunity that comes to them. Because if they don’t have like an agent or somebody to help them understand through this process, they’re just going to take all these random companies and they don’t know what they’re doing.

Mike Sarraille:
I have a feeling like you would’ve owned that had that role been changed during your yeah. The diva, the diva would’ve come out? You would have owned it?

Anicka Newell:
Absolutely.

Mike Sarraille:
I’m sure bar stool would’ve reached out real, real quick. Let’s take our mid roll pause here. But before we do, we ask two questions.

Anicka Newell:
Okay.

Mike Sarraille:
And these are the hard questions.

Anicka Newell:
Okay.

Mike Sarraille:
The hard truth is we tell it and sometimes it’s a stump, the jump and I don’t like to stump the jump, but biggest regret that you have today?

Anicka Newell:
My honestly, my biggest regret is feeling like I was, I stayed in a comfort zone, feeling like I settled for a really long time in college, not really living up to my potential and not understanding that I had potential. I felt comfortable. And I was okay with being average. Well, it took something that happened for me to realize that I’m not okay with being average. And I wanted to see what I’m capable of. And then after that I trained my off because I was like, I want to know what I can do. And from then on, it was no stopping me, but I feel like when you just get into this comfort zone, you tend to stay in it. And that’s probably my biggest regret is having been in one for as long as I did.

Mike Sarraille:
Okay. Then I got two questions off that. What allowed you to stay in that comfort zone? What was it? I mean, and first off, there’s nothing average about you. That’s funny that you say that, but was it that you’re a Texas state? You’re a star at the university? So you’re good with that. And what was it that kept you in the comfort zone?

Anicka Newell:
I honestly wasn’t even a star. I mean, I was kind of in the middle of the pack, to be honest. But I was, I was happy. I was content. I was partying. I was loving where I was at. I was loving my team. I was doing the workouts and not really working hard in the workouts, but doing them and it was just like, it was easy.

Mike Sarraille:
So, then what was the moment? The epiphany or was it a slow roll?

Anicka Newell:
We had a freshman come in and she kicked my ass and I was pissed because I’m very competitive. And as soon as that happened, I was like, Nope,

Mike Sarraille:
Game on.

Anicka Newell:
All right. The competitive streak came out of me and I was like, why have I been just sitting in this position for so long?

Mike Sarraille:
That’s amazing. And sometimes, here’s the good thing about being old. Well, I’m not old. I’m middle age. Is that youth can be the most motivating thing in the world. When somebody comes in full piss and vinegar, it’s almost like a reawakening for you. No matter what age you’re like, “You know what, man, I remember being like that. I want to return to that.”

Anicka Newell:
Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
Where they’re given to everything. Last question.

Anicka Newell:Okay.

Mike Sarraille:
Hardest decision you’ve ever had to make, whether it’s love, life, pole vaulting?

Anicka Newell:
It’s a love one. And I broke off an engagement and at the time he was my pole vaulting coach in Louisiana. And I ended up breaking up the engagement because I just didn’t see myself living there or being with him forever. Even though I did love him a lot. And so I left Louisiana, I packed up all my stuff and I left and that was definitely the hardest decision I’ve had to make.

Mike Sarraille:
Well, nobody wants to live in Louisiana. I think the crowd’s all shaking their heads. Yes. Nobody wants to live in Louisiana, but that’s an obvious. Was there an age difference there if he was your coach?

Anicka Newell:
No, actually he was only a year older than me.

Mike Sarraille:
Where’d you live in Louisiana?

Anicka Newell:
In lake Charles.

Mike Sarraille:
Lake Charles? Yes. Good to visit. To live, I don’t know. I mean, I’d like to go spend all my money and then come home promptly. Okay, good. Well with that, we’re going to take a mid-roll break. We will be right back. And we are back with Anicka Newell. Two times Canadian Olympian pole vault event. I think we left off, you’re back from Rio. You’re getting back into it. So I mean four years that’s, when you get back from the Olympics, do you sit down with your coaches, come up with a four year plan or how does that work?

Anicka Newell:
We take it year by year, just because you’re primarily trying to make sure that you don’t get injured during the process. So, we try not to look at the bigger picture and we take it a little bit slower one day at a time.

Mike Sarraille:
So do you lay out like, Hey, here are the competitions we want to hit over this next year. And then let’s reassess after that?

Anicka Newell:
I don’t start looking into competitions until a little bit closer to competition season. And then I have a sports agent that kind of helps set me up on and lining me up with all the competitions that year.

Mike Sarraille:
Do you get to select competitions? I mean, do you have a vote?

Anicka Newell:
Oh yeah. I could say that. I don’t want to do something.

Mike Sarraille:
How often? I mean, how many of those events are in Canada going back?

Anicka Newell:
There’s there’s several that are over the COVID years. It was just so difficult to get to Canada. So no one really could, or they didn’t host any competitions there. So we kind of went elsewhere over the world.

Mike Sarraille:
Yeah. Let’s dive into that. Justin Trudeau, do you want to put any comments out there publicly? No. I’m bet you know. What do you think about the recent trucker rallies? I mean that’s that’s your home or home country.

Anicka Newell:
I mean, I don’t know. I don’t really get intertwined with all of the politics with either country, to be honest.

Mike Sarraille:
Smart call, safe call, safe call. Keep that separate. So, when you’re getting ready for Tokyo, what was the new game plan? I mean, you finished 29th in Rio. I mean, do you ever step back and say I am 29th in the world? Do you take any?

Anicka Newell:
It’s more like, oh, I’m 29th in the freaking world.

Mike Sarraille:
Do you know how many, like how many young women in the sport would be like, man, I would give anything to be 29th in the world.

Anicka Newell:
I would give anything to be first in the world.

Mike Sarraille:
That is the attitude of a warrior. Do you believe in your heart for this next one that you’re going up?

Anicka Newell:
Yes. I believed in my heart for Tokyo and I still believe that I could have medal at Tokyo, so Paris I’m going to be there on the medal stand.

Mike Sarraille:
Stand by. We are going to be watching sporting you. Now I’m excited, now we’ve got a reason to actually watch the Olympics. The Olympics seemed to have lost viewership. Yeah.

Anicka Newell:
Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
Why do you think that is?

Anicka Newell:
I think they just make it so difficult. I had so many of my friends and family say like, “Where do I find the women’s pole vault? And what time is it at?” I feel like they need to make something for the audience to where they can lay out a schedule and say, Hey, these are the events. These are the times. These are how you find it. This is how you access it. And just make it a lot more simple because people don’t want to put in that work. They don’t want to do the research. They have to like search for the event. They just want to watch the damn event.

Mike Sarraille:
And you, I got to say like, there’s a point where like the politics just need to stay out of it.

Anicka Newell:
Yeah, that too.

Mike Sarraille:
It’s just dude, let the athletes compete.

Anicka Newell:
Yes.

Mike Sarraille:
It almost taints the true intent of the Olympics. Let’s talk about going to Tokyo. Now it’s your second time, you’re seasoned compared to other Olympians. And what is the average amount that Olympians compete? I mean, is it usually, most people only get one shot at the Olympics?

Anicka Newell:
Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
Two?

Anicka Newell:
Most people only get one shot.

Mike Sarraille:
Okay. So you’ve got a second shot, you’ve earned it. What’s your mindset going into that?

Anicka Newell:
I mean, I was just so focused. I had such tunnel vision the entire time. Like I only had one focus and that was to be on the metal stand.

Mike Sarraille:
And how did you do in the Olympic trials for Canada that year?

Anicka Newell:
We did not have them that year because of COVID.

Mike Sarraille:
So they were going off of previous?

Anicka Newell:
They were going off of marks that year. And if you had the qualifying standard and rankings.

Mike Sarraille:
And you still finish within the top two to go.

Anicka Newell:
Yep.

Mike Sarraille:
Okay. Now, you make it to finals.

Anicka Newell:
Yes.

Mike Sarraille:
You’ve performed and I know finals didn’t go the way you wanted it to go.

Anicka Newell:
It did not.

Mike Sarraille:
Talk me through that?

Anicka Newell:
So in the preliminary round, we played it very safe. I have a certain pole series that’s will say easier for me to handle. It’s not as big. And so I used that pole series and I was able to complete the jumps very easily, kind of just breeze through prelims, which is what I intended to do to get to finals. And in finals, we essentially took the all or nothing attitude. And we brought my biggest poles that I had in my bag. And we’re like, you know what, this is what we got to do to be on the metal stand. And I just, I went for it. And unfortunately the weather conditions and the setup for that day, it wasn’t the right call, but I don’t regret.

Mike Sarraille:
It was that due to the winds?

Anicka Newell:
Yeah. Unfortunately we had a headwind, which for pole vaulting just really sucks. As you felt today, the wind really pushes the pole around when you’re running down the runway and you want it to be kind of like directly at your back or no wind at all, just so that the pole stays right in line. Because the box is really only a couple feet wide and you’re trying to plant it at the exact perfect position every single time.

Mike Sarraille:
First off Anicka, the only thing I felt today was not the wind. It was pain. It was pain.

Anicka Newell:
Okay.

Mike Sarraille:
I just happened to have a stick in my hand. So, the wind is hitting the pole and affecting your approach.

Anicka Newell:
Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
Were other athletes pulling out their long poles as well? Or did you notice they were taking a different approach?

Anicka Newell:
To be honest, you don’t really notice the other athletes or what they’re doing, plus I’m not really acquainted with their series as well.

Mike Sarraille:
Gotcha.

Anicka Newell:
So since we’re all in different polls, you don’t notice those things.

Mike Sarraille:
You complete your jumps and it’s no mark.

Anicka Newell:
I know I did. Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
Do you at least feel proud in the sense that you said all or nothing, screw it, I’m going for it?

Anicka Newell:
I feel very proud just because I really, I was fearless that day. Like I just went for it. And so part of me is like, “You know what I was truly giving it my all that day.” It just sucks that I walked away with the nothing part and not the all, but I am proud of myself on that aspect. Excuse me.

Mike Sarraille:
I’m so thrilled to hear that because again, you’re at the Olympics dude.

Anicka Newell:
Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
You’re at the freaking Olympics. I mean, I’ve worked with high performers, elite performers in the world that can never make it to that level, dude. And I hope you have time to proverbially, smell the roses about how awesome that is. Now, you posted something on Instagram that we saw in the research. It was you basically on the pads when you hit your no mark and you again displayed a vulnerability of, “Hey, I didn’t perform how I wanted to perform, how I intended to perform.” It affected you mentally and you needed to take a break.

Anicka Newell:
Yes.

Mike Sarraille:
You don’t see that. And I know mental health is a huge, huge subject right now. It’s not a sign of weakness. We’ve seen this with Michael Phelps. We talked about the imbalance in his life of performing and what it did to, I mean, we see Simone Biles.

Anicka Newell:
Simone Biles, yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
Who actually removed herself and the fact that she took criticism, but, it screw those people. I hope one day we can get Simone on here as well because I want to talk to her about that, but you opened yourself up and basically said, “I need to take some time to myself.” Explain that to me?

Anicka Newell:
I mean, you have to process and after the Olympics and when it’s over it’s like you have this period of time where everything goes back to normal and it almost feels like it didn’t even happen. So it’s like a period of grief. Like you just lost something. Like it’s over, it ended, it died. And especially for me, seeing as I didn’t perform how I wanted to, it really felt like a dream died. So, I needed to take my time to grieve that and to process everything that went on and to be able to really look inside myself and think about what I could have done or what I should have done or moving forward, what needs to be done next time.

Mike Sarraille:
What was that process for you? Was it a vacation? Was it nature? What I mean, was it staying at home?

Anicka Newell:
I went visited family first and foremost. Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
Is that your rock?

Anicka Newell:
Yeah. Family and friends. Those were my rock for sure, through that time. They really boosted me and I needed them. Like I relied on them and I’m not afraid to say that I’m happy to lean on people in the time of need.

Mike Sarraille:
Was there a moment you broke down just in tears?

Anicka Newell:
Oh yeah. Lots of tears.

Mike Sarraille:
Was it in Tokyo or was it?

Anicka Newell:
No, you know what? I did in Tokyo too, but I was more in shock than anything else.

Mike Sarraille:
Yeah.

Anicka Newell:
So it wasn’t really, until I got home and looked back like what the hell just happened? I just, I broke.

Mike Sarraille:
Was this in your home here, in Texas?

Anicka Newell:
Yep. In my apartment.

Mike Sarraille:
By yourself.

Anicka Newell:
Yep.

Mike Sarraille:
Dude, that’s totally the normal, I mean, hell I mean there’s moments. I think of the guys we lost and I just break down tears. And that was years ago, decades ago. When you were done with that moment, what did you say to yourself?

Anicka Newell:
I said that’s time to get up. And the best athletes have short-term memory loss.

Mike Sarraille:
That is a great attribute. You said recently in our conversation today is that you had an epiphany that you are capable of so much more.

Anicka Newell:
Yes.

Mike Sarraille:
And that recently happened in the last, you said post Tokyo, that you’re like, “You know what, screw it. We’re going after it again.”

Anicka Newell:
Yep.

Mike Sarraille:
What was it? What was that moment?

Anicka Newell:
I felt like on my way to Tokyo, that whole year of training, like we tapped into just some of the potential. Like I got a glimpse of it and I’m so hungry by it. It was like a teaser and I know I can accomplish so much more. I feel it in my bones. So it’s like, I’m not ready to step away because I’m not done.

Mike Sarraille:
Do you feel these next few years are going to be the strongest years of your life? Because I remember being 21 and honestly, it seemed like 28 and 35. That was the peak of my physical performance.

Anicka Newell:
Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
Do you feel like you’re, I mean you’re going to get stronger, faster, better.

Anicka Newell:
Absolutely. Absolutely. Even right now, while I’m just starting my season, I’ve already hit certain personal records in the weight room. I can feel myself getting stronger on the track and we’re doing certain things technically with my pole vaulting that is proven to be really accomplishing.

Mike Sarraille:
Since part of Men’s Journal is the fitness component, give me just a breakdown of what you’re focusing on in terms of training and then also diet?

Anicka Newell:
So my week breaks down by weightlifting practices, sprinting practices, tempo practices, and then pole vaulting practices. And then I do a lot of like physical recovery after and before those, but I train anywhere from about two to six hours a day.

Mike Sarraille:
Yeah. So do I.

Anicka Newell:
I love it.

Mike Sarraille:
Exactly. I think the audience is like, yeah, of course we do that too.

Anicka Newell:
Well, but that is my job. I mean, that’s like my nine to five is working out.

Mike Sarraille:
And I know you do active recovery. I know you’re doing like, the cold plunges and everything else.

Anicka Newell:
Yes.

Mike Sarraille:
Stretching, but I mean, is there ever a time where you just take three days off?

Anicka Newell:
Three?

Mike Sarraille:
Oh, jeez. I just hit a nerve? Like, oh.

Anicka Newell:
One day off.

Mike Sarraille:
One day off?

Anicka Newell:
Yeah, we got Sundays off.

Mike Sarraille:
Okay. What are you doing that during that Sunday? Nothing?Massages, anything?

Anicka Newell:
Actually I usually coach on Sundays.

Mike Sarraille:
Money.

Anicka Newell: Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
Go mix money and go train the next generation.

Anicka Newell:
Exactly.

Mike Sarraille:
What about diet? How strict are you? And I mean, are you using a dietician or at this point, do you just have it dialed in?

Anicka Newell:
I have it dialed in. I know how my body works. I know what it reacts to. I know about how many calories I need to eat in a day, but I am very strict with what I put in my body because I want to make sure that I’m fueling it, right? You don’t want to put the wrong things in and your body just doesn’t perform for you. So, I want to make sure I have as much energy to spare as I can.

Mike Sarraille:
So, let me ask about alcohol because I know, Hey, we all, we give ourselves a break and then we really tighten it up as we get closer to competitions. How much drinking do you do? And how does it fluctuate?

Anicka Newell:
Well, everybody’s got their vice and for me going out and having a couple drinks with some friends is like a stress reliever. So, it’s like a good balance. I’m not like out there binging and getting blackout or anything like that. But, I am doing it to relieve stress and to have some fun where practice is just so demanding. And when you have a couple of drinks, you let loose, you can just enjoy yourself.

Mike Sarraille:
Yeah. It’s I don’t know what you’re talking about because I don’t drink alcohol.

Anicka Newell:
Me neither.

Mike Sarraille:
I’m very strict with my diet. I only eat protein. That’s all I eat no carbs, no fat. What does your next year look like in terms of competitions?

Anicka Newell: In terms of competitions?

Mike Sarraille:
Yeah.

Anicka Newell:
So this year is actually world championships in the states. It’s in Oregon this year.

Mike Sarraille:
In Eugene?

Anicka Newell:
Yep.

Mike Sarraille:
Okay. At the track.

Anicka Newell:
Track town. Yeah. So that’s really exciting because it’s just like a hop, a skip away. So a lot of my family will be able to come and that’ll be fun. And then past that, we’ll see what next year is looking like. But I’ll be looking to break some records.

Mike Sarraille:
Is the world championships, do you represent Canada or is it?

Anicka Newell:
I do.

Mike Sarraille:
Individual?

Anicka Newell:
Yep.

Mike Sarraille:
Okay.

Anicka Newell:
Represent the country.

Mike Sarraille:
And are you already qualified? It’s done. You’re in?

Anicka Newell:
Not yet. I’ll still have to go again to national trials and basically fight for my spot.

Mike Sarraille:
At this point. Is it just like you and Alicia just dominating the competition?

Anicka Newell:
Yes.

Mike Sarraille:
Quick answer. That’s it, yes.

Anicka Newell:
Yes.

Mike Sarraille:
Bottom line. Okay. Good. Good. Good. Let me go here. Well, one we want to get to questions from the audience. We also had a few questions come in. What we had to be very judicious about the questions that came in. I’m going to start with the first one where we told the guy stop asking the question. One, would you date a United States Marine?

Anicka Newell:
As opposed to like a Canadian Marine? No.

Mike Sarraille:
Are there even Canadian Marines?

Anicka Newell:
Just go ahead and send in your resume.

Mike Sarraille:
We’ll that up right now.

Anicka Newell:
And I’ll take a look at it.

Mike Sarraille:
So are you saying you’re opposed to military guys?

Anicka Newell:
I didn’t say that one bit.

Mike Sarraille:
DMs are open? Okay. Do that, if DMs are open, stop DMing me in DM her. My time is valuable as well. This one actually came in from a guy, I had the respect he’s on his way to Mount Everest right now.

Anicka Newell:
Wow.

Mike Sarraille:
He sent this from the airplane. He said his name is Eli Sakaly. And if you ever, I’ll send you this guy’s Instagram account, because I make fun. I’m like he’s a male model.

Anicka Newell:
Okay.

Mike Sarraille:
And he actually was a male model actor before he became an extreme athlete.

Anicka Newell:
Okay.

Mike Sarraille:
And he’s he’s ascended, Mount Everest multiple times, documentary, filmmaker.

Anicka Newell:
This is sounding good. Does he want to date me too?

Mike Sarraille:
I will show you pictures after this. He just sent me some pictures because I’m like, dude.

Anicka Newell:
I’m just kidding.

Mike Sarraille:
I told him, I’m like, there’s something about your face. I don’t know whether I want to kiss you or punch you. But he came to Mount Everest with me, for the skydiving expeditions.

Anicka Newell:
Wow. That’s awesome.

Mike Sarraille:
And even when he’s growing his beard, I’m like, “Are you trimming your beard in a certain way, dude?” Because like he’s got the gray in certain patches and he’s just a really handsome dude. But, total stud. He said, “What is your prelaunch routine in your mind seconds before you go?”

Anicka Newell:
Oh this is a really good one because every pole vaulter has this routine before they even pick up their pole and start down the runway. It’s like a thumbprint to a pole vaulter basically. So, I know exactly where I go to step. I step forward. I step back. And as of last year, actually I got something tattooed on my hand and it’s a phrase that my mom said to me before the Olympics and I just, I loved it. So I look at the phrase and I just imagine all the support that I have from my friends and from my family. And it just like immediately I feel the adrenaline rush. And so I pick up the pole and then I just go.

Mike Sarraille:
Can I ask what the phrase is?

Anicka Newell:
It’s show the world.

Mike Sarraille:
Is your mom your biggest rock?

Anicka Newell:
Both my parents. Really.

Mike Sarraille:
Both parents?

Anicka Newell:
Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
My mom is my foundational rock.

Anicka Newell:
Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
She always has me. My dad is my sort of hand to the ass or quite proverbially as we said earlier, the hands around my neck. But I love the old man, man. I am who I am because of him and my mom. That’s great. We have one from Allison and I’m going to butcher her last name, Bragger. Who’s with the U.S Army neuroscience and athlete division. So I’m assuming she’s an athlete. I’ve always wondered if Olympians have a comfort pole and I have no idea what that is, like us amateurs.

Anicka Newell:
Yes. So we definitely have like a pole. That’s just, it’s just easy. You can get on it no matter what you’re not worried about. Well, getting like rejected, getting spit out and not making it into the pit. So yes, we definitely have a comfort pole, but it does change for us midway through the year when I’m not quite as strong. I have one comfort pole and then towards the end of the year, I have a totally different comfort pole and it changes, but I used to like to name them.

Mike Sarraille:
Okay, what are some of the names?

Anicka Newell:
My favorite one to date, Mary Jane. Because she gets me high.

Mike Sarraille:
Because she gets you high. I love that. I love that. I don’t think I ever named any of my rifles, but yeah. Okay. Right on. Do you use visualization before you go?

Anicka Newell:
Yep. I actually just took on a challenge this year and I’m only 11 days in, but I’m trying to visualize myself taking the perfect vault three times in a row. And I’m trying to do it for a hundred days straight.

Mike Sarraille:
Where do you do the visualization? Is it in your apartment or is when you’re training?

Anicka Newell:
Yep, literally just in my bed at night before I go to sleep. But I visualize on different arenas.

Mike Sarraille:
Do you have any mental or spiritual sort of procedures that you have personally? Meditation, breathing, that you use for your balance?

Anicka Newell:
Breathing, yes. I’ve tried meditating. You got to be really mentally strong to sit there just in complete silence and meditate for periods of time. So I’m working on that, but I mean, I do feel like it does make a difference and that’s why I’m trying to pursue it.

Mike Sarraille:
It is difficult to maintain that silence and concentrate.

Anicka Newell:
Yeah. It’s a different type of training.

Mike Sarraille:
Oh yeah. It becomes especially difficult when you’re married. Okay. Well, hopefully that’s not in your horizon. Focus on the Olympics. So Anicka, first off, I can’t thank you enough for joining us and we’re going to close this out and I got a few closing remarks, but we close with two questions and yeah, you may be 28.

Anicka Newell:
Okay.

Mike Sarraille:
You’ve lived a life that 99.99 repeating, many of us have not lived and you’ve learned some amazing things along the way. And even though you’re in your early days, have you ever thought about how will Anicka look back and measure whether she’s lived a fulfilling purpose driven life?

Anicka Newell:
I have looked at that specifically because there has been two moments where I thought to myself, am I ready to quit track? And then I thought, no, because I haven’t given it my all yet. I haven’t left everything that I have on the track. And so part of that is going to come for me, really fulfilling my dreams or at least doing my damnedest to fulfill my dreams. And that’s really the way that I’m be ready to go out. And then for the rest of my life, I’ll be content and I’ll be ready to spread my knowledge and enjoy the rest of my life from then on out.

Mike Sarraille:
Hell yes. Hell yes. What are those one, two, three keys of success for you? Those non-negotiables that you just will not break? And I know we all break our own tenants, but what are those things that you hold dear that are the keys to your success thus far in life?

Anicka Newell:
So the first one is hard work. I train by myself and in order to do that, I have to be very self-motivated and I feel like I have to work harder than an athlete that has teammates or coaches out there to push them just because it’s all coming from within me. So, it’s got to be an extreme work ethic. And that’s the first one. The second one equally important to me is, have fun. I’m not doing pole vault for anybody but myself. I love it. Like I look forward to pole vault practices. As soon as I finish one, I’m like ready for the next pole vaulting day, which I only get two vault days a week. So I’m like Monday, I’m like ready for Thursday already to come around because I love it. So have fun. The third one would really, this might be my stumper because those are the two main ones for me.

Mike Sarraille:
It can be two.

Anicka Newell:
Probably just the two hard work and have fun.

Mike Sarraille:
You know, it’s funny, we just interviewed Sammy Hagar and I asked him because I don’t know much about the music industry. I said, “Hey, did you outwork your other people?” Because he’s highly successful. He’s like 100%. When people were out partying, I was jamming. I was jamming. And then to have fun. Yeah. You got to find a way to make hard work fun.

Anicka Newell:
Yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
Well, guys, take that on board. I don’t think there’s any two better rules in life to work your ass off and to say screw it and have some fun doing it. So, guys, I want to thank you again, on behalf of Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior, Anicka, dude, you are the epitome and definition of a warrior and the mindset that it requires. Thank you for joining us. And I think you’re hitting Austin for the rest of the night to let loose a little bit?

Anicka Newell:
I’m hitting the town.

Mike Sarraille:
There you go. So will we all right guys until next time.
Thank you for joining us on this episode of the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe to the show and pick up a new issue of Men’s Journal magazine. Men’s Journal magazine has features on health and fitness, adventure and travel style. And my favorite, the coolest gear hitting the market today. Until next time, I’m Mike Sarraille and thanks for listening.

 

 

Episode 7

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Episode 8

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Episode 9

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Episode 10

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Episode 11

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