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Interview Yann Senjaric

It was late and a little by chance, thanks to the baccalaureate sports test, that Yann Senjaric took up athletics in Saint-Julien-en-Genevois and then, with the best coaches in Aix-les -Baths. From his beginnings as a footballer to his victory at the 2017 Balkan Games in the 400m hurdles, this hyperactive Franco-Croatian reveals his journey as an athlete but also as a sports coach in Geneva.

A: When and where did you start athletics?

Y: It was only at the age of 19 that I really started athletics following excellent results obtained on the day of the exams in sport, athletics option at the Baccalaureate. My teachers strongly advised me to take a degree. I first registered at Athlé Saint Julien 74, then I moved to AS Aix-les-Bains to seek the expertise of the very renowned sprint group, led by Pierrot Carraz. Since 2017, a new coach has guided me: Frédéric Gazeau. He is very strong and I like his vision of things.

A: Did you play other sports when you were younger?

Y: Yes, I have always been very active and “daredevil” with my friends: a fan of skateboarding, snowboarding in winter, at the football club since I was 5, then tennis at 15.

A: When did you discover your talent for hurdling? Why did you choose this discipline?

Y: The 400m hurdles was my first athletics race without really training, without even a choice, just with the aim of running for the club and bringing points to the team. I tried other disciplines but the one where I expressed myself best was the low hurdles (400m hurdles: 1 lap of the track with 10 hurdles raised to 91cm). I progressed very quickly, which encouraged me to persevere. It is a very complete discipline which combines speed, resistance, flexibility, crossing technique, stride pattern and adaptation of the rhythm obstacle after obstacle.

A: Do you compete in other disciplines?

Y: Yes, the 400m flat to start the 4x400m relay.

A: What is the fondest memory of your athletic career?

Y: A race on 07/13/14 in Varazdin in Croatia which brought me a lot: my first Croatian champion title, a personal best, the minimums for the European Championships… and so much euphoria! And then every race where I put on the Croatian national outfit is indescribable, it helps me to transcend myself.

A: What are the most important personality traits or physical strengths for a top athlete, in your opinion?

Y: I think that humility is the first because no matter how much we surpass ourselves, win victories, break records, appear on TV... we will always remain human, vulnerable and ephemeral on Earth.

The 2nd is respect for one's opponents because we draw our strength from them to win.

The 3rd is listening to yourself . Knowing yourself is essential to progress.

The 4th is determination which, thanks to work, allows you to achieve your goals or even your dream.

The 5th is creativity because very often, we have to know how to open our eyes, be attentive to what is offered to us and use our imagination to create new opportunities.

A: You are not just an elite athlete. Tell us about your career as a Sports Coach!

Y: I have been a self-employed sports coach/trainer in Geneva for 5 years now. I also worked in a wellness and fitness center. I draw a lot of inspiration from my favorite sport, athletics, to train my clients. I collaborate with the Efficium clinic in Acacias, I work at home, outside and in a Personal Training studio called Funcwork in Eaux-Vives. I am also an ambassador for Algorigin and Five Sport Management with the dual role of athlete and coach.

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A: What are the main reasons people come to see you as a Coach?

Y: Each person has their own goal and I offer personalized training accordingly. There may be competition involved or rehabilitation following an injury. Some will work mainly on flexibility and joint mobility to combat back or neck pain, others will seek weight loss and general muscle strengthening. Overall, people want to escape, relieve stress and feel good about their body. My daily life is extremely varied and exciting!

A: How do you assess a client's needs?

Y: Most of the time things happen naturally during the sessions: we communicate, we laugh, I observe, I analyze and at the same time… we train hard! No need to do test sessions or evaluation questionnaires. I rely on communication, I listen to my clients and I ask them questions, I do my research, I come up with something new and sometimes with a surprise objective to motivate them!

A: How does a session with you as coach take place?

Y: A session lasts 1 hour. Systematically 10 minutes of warm-up and 10 minutes of cool-down and stretching. We have 40 minutes left in the middle of the session to work and sweat! I try to develop all physical qualities in anyone, namely endurance, strength, speed, flexibility, balance, coordination, etc. Of course all this spread over several sessions with the aim of having a balanced body.

A: Do you have a favorite exercise? If yes which ?

Y: Yes, jumping and overcoming obstacles of all kinds. But it's not for everyone... you have to accept the fall sometimes!

A: What is your tip for motivating people?

Y: When the feeling goes well, then we don't look at the watch and we don't save ourselves. I often remind them of their journey and their personal goal. All the accumulated sessions and the efforts made go through difficult moments and outside their comfort zone. The goal is simply good health and the ability to move by discovering new sports such as mountain walking, climbing, boxing, swimming, running, cycling, board sports, the list is long. And pleasure will inevitably arise.

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A: What do you like best about your job?

Y: I like the diversity of the people I meet, their origins, their experiences, their personalities, their confidence. Sport is a part of my profession but relationships are yet another dimension which enriches our daily lives much more. Being a coach means boosting people! Sometimes a discussion is more effective than an exercise.

A: Tell us a little about your next projects!

Y: I have lots of them and some great ones! My short-term project between now and this spring is to start one, or even two, small group sports classes with the Efficium clinic focused on joint mobility, flexibility and muscle strengthening. The 2nd class would focus more on cardio and developing endurance outdoors.

A: Do you follow a specific nutritional plan?

Y: Yes, with Virginie Terrier at the Efficium clinic. An annual blood test allows him to see my general condition, then we put in place dietary supplements and cures. We adjust and take stock every month. All accompanied by a healthy and diversified diet.

A: Which Algorigin products have you already tested?

Y: I have already tried spirulina .

A: What do you think are the benefits of algae?

Y: It is difficult for me to particularly feel the benefits of seaweed because I often have several treatments at the same time. The results for me are good and the scientific studies on algae are positive so I trust Algorigin.

A: How do you prefer to take seaweed?

Y: I only take them as tablets on an empty stomach in the morning.

A: Do you have a recipe to share with us?

Y: My best meals are those where I cook vegetables from my garden, whatever the recipe, cooking, it's a pure joy to work the land, harvest and eat fresh!


– His age: 28 years old
Nationality: Franco-Croatian
Sport: Athletics 400m Hurdles
Job: Personal Trainer in Geneva.

– Prize list:

  • Winner of the 2017 Balkan Games in 400m Hurdles
  • 2014 European Championships in Zurich (400m Hurdles and 4x400m relay)
  • Croatian 400m Hurdles Champion since 2014
  • Selected for the national team since 2014

– Records:

  • 400m Hurdles: 50 sec 88
  • 400m: 47 sec 83
  • 800m: 1 min 52 sec 82

– You in 3 words: Patient, positive, combative

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