German heptathlete is All-American Wahine

January 21st, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Sports  |  1 Comment

Annett Wichmann with javelin

UH degree: BS in kinesiology/rehabilitation science ’09
Roots: Jena, Germany
Most memorable moment: Winning in the 2001 Under 18 World Championships in Hungary
Advice to athletes: “One thing every athlete has to learn is patience. Some athletes become successful very quick, but then they level out, and that’s the point where you have to be patient and trust in yourself to get better. And the only way to get better is to stay 100-percent focused.”

To Annett Wichmann, it seems like yesterday that her physical education teacher asked if she would like to join a club in her hometown and compete in track and field.

Fifteen years later and thousands of miles away, she continues to assist the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa team that she represented in a record seven NCAA national championship appearances (netting five top-10 finishes).

“University of Idaho wanted to recruit me, so I figured if they wanted me, maybe some other schools might too” she recalls. “I sent a letter to the coach at UH because I’ve always wanted to be in Hawaiʻi and, luckily, they accepted.”

Lucky for the Rainbow Wahine, too. Wichmann became the first athlete in Western Athletic Conference history to win four conference championships in heptathlon. She won three WAC pentathlon titles, was a four-time All-WAC Academic honoree and received the conference’s 2009 Stan Bates Award.

Along the way, she won 13 WAC event medals and broke more than 40 school records. She was named the Island Sports Media Collegiate Athlete of the Year—an honor reserved for an outstanding athlete with Hawaiʻi ties who is an outstanding role model on and off the field—and was the sixth UH athlete to make ESPN The Magazine’s Academic All-America first team.

Wichmann spent a year in Kansas City on a high school exchange program, practicing her English, before moving to Hawaiʻi in 2005. The big differences in culture (like food and people) have actually formed some of her favorite things about the islands.

“There are a lot of similarities and differences, starting with the diverse friendly group of people, which I love. In Germany, people are initially uptight, whereas in Hawaiʻi, everyone says hello and offers smiles to anyone right away. I’ve been very fortunate to have met locals and have meaningful friendships with them,” she says.

Still, Wichmann is anything but laid back about getting the best performances out of herself mentally and physically. “It is so easy to get side-tracked. Finding a way to balance my sport, school, getting enough rest and fun has been difficult. However, I have made it this far, received an education and have been able to compete in a sport I love for a long time. Not everyone has done that and I did it all by myself.”

It wasn’t an easy ride. In 2002 she suffered a slipped disk in her back that took her out of competition and into rehabilitation for almost three years. “I knew right away that I injured myself badly because I could barely walk. There were moments when I thought I would never compete again,” she reflects.

Wichmann is taking a much-needed break from school for a year, working as a physical therapy assistant. But she plans to apply for a master’s program in Hawaiʻi and eventually pursue a graduate program in sports psychology on the U.S. mainland.

“I always knew I wanted to study sports psychology, but Hawaiʻi does not offer it so if I have to receive a master’s in another field to stay a bit longer,” she says. “I’m definitely willing to do it.”

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  1. Cheryl Ernst says:

    January 26th, 2010at 6:08 pm(#)

    Want to support track and field athletes like Annett? Participate in the inaugural Mānoa Mile fundraiser, Sat. Feb. 6, 2010. Compete on the mile-long course on Mānoa’s Lower Campus as a student, non-student or part of a five-member corporate team or in the “rubba slippa” race. Download the flyer for information.