USATF heptathlete Chantae McMillan on how she gets hyped
Olympic heptathlete Chantae McMillan spoke with reporter Morty Ain about what it was like to take it all off for ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue, the shopping problem caused by her lats, and her inclination to work out barefoot.
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You know the song "Bulls on Parade" by Rage Against the Machine? It plays in my head right before a hurdle race. It's an internal scream ... just super loud. I might look calm and composed, but I'm screaming on the inside. It's crazy what goes on in there.
I can throw a pretty good spiral. My farthest football throw is probably 40 yards. I don't know if that's good or not. But my javelin throws are pretty good. I could probably be ambidextrous with the javelin if I needed to be.
I don't look in the mirror and think "slim"; I look in the mirror and I'm like, "Whoa, beast!" It's just crazy how much the body changes. Looking in the mirror I get surprised like every other week. It's like I'm Wonder Woman.
My lats are super huge! They are always ripping dresses. It's definitely happened when I've lifted my arms up, and you hear that tear ...
Yeah, I eat. I love food! But I'm probably working out so much that it all burns off. Female athletes are supposed to be like 12 to 14 percent body fat, and I'm always borderline 9 to 10 percent. But I perform well at that percentage.
Sometimes I'd worry about my scars being too visible. But at this point in my life, I understand that they show where I came from, so I embrace them. A lot of them are just from being the kid that I was, but now I have a big knee scar from throwing out my patellar tendon in 2011 -- it shows what I got through to get to the 2012 Olympic trials.
Actually, I don't think my abs are my favorite body part; I like my arms. I like when I can turn my arm and see all the muscles and lines throughout, seeing the vascularity. I like the lines of my deltoids and trying to find the "horseshoe" when I flex my triceps. The horseshoe goes back to one of my strength coaches -- we would always joke about trying to get that horseshoe on the back of my arm. If I'm in the gym with someone I know, I'm going to purposely flex my arm and make sure that they can see my horseshoe and the lines of my delts and all the veins [laughs].
I hate my toes! That's my thing I'm self-conscious about. My second toe is longer than my first, and I always thought that was weird growing up. If I was wearing sandals, I didn't want people looking at my toes. And I don't like people touching my feet.
Sometimes I'd worry about my scars being too visible. I have a big knee scar from throwing out my patellar tendon in 2011 -- but it shows what I got through to get to the 2012 Olympic trials.Chantae McMillan
I do everything barefoot when I work out with my trainer. My feet are my foundation. I'm grounded when I'm barefoot and getting all of those muscles working to trigger all the other muscles. It's just going back to basics and making sure that all my muscles are firing the way they are supposed to. My feet are OK compared to his [laughs]. His big toes are pretty janky-looking.
My dentist loves me. I've always enjoyed going to the dentist. It feels so good afterward. Why would you not enjoy getting your teeth cleaned?
I put on muscle super easy. My coach is afraid to have me do too much lifting because I'll blow up really quick. One summer at the University of Nebraska, I worked out heavy all summer. I bulked up so much, I was 166 pounds. I think it was all muscle; I was huge. I don't see myself getting that big ever again -- unless I try to bobsled next.
I'm learning to play the ukulele. I have a guitar but I wasn't doing too well at it. With my fingers, I couldn't hit the right chords. And I wanted to play "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," so I got a ukulele and I'm working on it.
I would love to speedskate. I used to Rollerblade everywhere as a child. I had a husky, and she would pull me on my Rollerblades because she's like a sled dog. Yeah, I had a great childhood.
My parents gave me some pretty sweet genes. They were both in the military. My mom would always dominate the PT tests that they had. I remember having to do situps and pushups with her when she was practicing at home for the test. She was always tops in her class.
I had a unicycle, until my mom sold it. But I can still get back into the groove of riding when I'm around one. I think it's just because I have good balance from all the training that I do. I don't do any tricks, but it's enough to ride one, isn't it?
You're probably thinking, "What are the odds of being around a unicycle?" Very good. My close friend has one!
This is an online exclusive story from ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue 2015. The Body Issue hits newsstands July 10. Subscribe today!