Pau Tonneson vaults into the Olympics

Joseph Jacquez
Mesa Legend

Former Mesa Community College track and field star Pau Tonnesen recently qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.  Previously, he placed second in the decathlon for the University of Arizona at the recent NCAA Track and Field national championships in June.  “This was complete relief. I had been working for so long and everything had paid off. I had finally achieved my goal and qualified for the world championships and I was just fully content,” Tonnesen said.  “I had really wanted to win, however I couldn’t be upset with the performance I had. Everything played out great and I got beat by a true champion.”  He placed first in the pole vault with a leap of 17-5, and in the shot put with a distance of 49-9 ¼. He placed second in the discus, high jump, and long jump.  Tonnesen shattered his personal best score with a total of 8,247 points, easily surpassing the 8,075 points needed to compete in the 2016 Summer Games. He has dual citizenship in both the U.S. and Spain and decided to compete as a part of Team Spain, his mother’s native country.

Pictured in order: Coach Ralph Haynie, Pau Tonnesen, coach Steve Jacobs, and coach Nick Adamnson.
Pictured in order: Coach Ralph Haynie, Pau Tonnesen, coach Steve Jacobs, and coach Nick Adamnson.
Photo courtesy of Pau Tonnesen

In May, Tonnesen captured the PAC-12 title with a score of 7,823 in the decathlon and was named the PAC-12 Men’s Field Athlete of the Year, accomplishments that surprised him.  “It felt amazing. I wasn’t sure if I was going to win that meet and when it played out for me I was really happy. Especially having my dad there,” Tonnesen said. “Winning the PAC-12 Field Athlete of the Year was a true surprise for me. I didn’t see it coming but I’m glad it did.”
In July, Tonnesen finished second in the decathlon at the European Cup, and in late August, he competed in the 100 meters, 400 meters, and the javelin throw at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing China. The former All-American won NJCAA championships in the pentathlon indoors and the decathlon outdoors in each of his two years at MCC for a total of six national championships.

It’s the relationships that Tonnesen built at MCC that he remembers fondly from his time as a T-Bird.  “I remember my friends on the team and even more so my coaching staff. Nick Adamson, Ralf Hayne, and Steve Jacobs taught me the decathlon. Without them I would never be in this situation and I am forever grateful.” Jacobs is confident that Tonnesen will perform well in the Olympics, noting his high confidence, his competitive nature, his strong work ethic and ability to learn fast, and his pleasant personality.   “I have never doubted Pau’s ability and I never will,” Jacobs said.

Tonnesen is really looking forward to soaking in all that the Olympics have to offer. “I think that it will just be a great experience. I can’t wait to get back on the track with the best athletes in the world to give it my all. No matter how I do personally, I am so excited to be a part of it. But I also want to do well.” Tonnesen has already begun training toward at least a top eight finish with the ultimate goal of placing in the top three and winning a medal.   “I actually just started training again this week. I’ll be doing a lot of core work to stabilize my back in order to prevent injuries. Also I’ll be working a lot on my speed and speed endurance.”

Tonnesen joins a long list of successful former T-Bird athletes that shine in their sport at the University level and in some cases on the world stage.  Former MCC golfer Alex Haun won the 2015 Arizona Women’s Amateur Stroke Play Championship for the University of Tulsa, and former Mesa QB Blake Kemp is starting for East Carolina and almost directed an upset of SEC power Florida.

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