BYU ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS
Tiffany in her formal dress and Niklas in his tuxedo walk up to the microphone at the Y Awards, awards handed out to outstanding athletes and coaches, to present an award. Before they announce the winner, the audience is given a personal view of their personality and relationship. As the video shows their ability to throw and lack of ability to catch, Tiffany adds, we are more throwers than catchers. Through it all the couple are close and full of smiles.
Niklas and Tiffany Arrhenius spent the summer of 2006 competing overseas in Sweden, Niklas in the discus and Tiffany in the javelin. They went up against the world’s finest together and have continued to support each other along the way.
“I have been competing in Sweden since I was 14 or 15, so it wasn’t new for me,” said All-American Niklas. “But track is much bigger in Sweden than it is here. They took a poll in Sweden to find out what the most popular sport is, and track was the most popular over their hockey and soccer teams.”
Tiffany remembers the experience well as it was her first taste of international competition.
“I was nervous because it was my first time out of the USA, and I was competing against some of the best throwers in the world,” Tiffany said. “It’s very different over there. They do an awards ceremony with music and medals after every event at every meet. It makes you feel like a celebrity. Kids would come up to Niklas and ask for his autograph.”
Tiffany, a native of Imber, Ore., learned some Swedish before traveling to Europe but found she had to make some adjustments.
“I usually try to be friendly to the people I throw against, just make comments or chat, but in Sweden I would turn to talk to someone and think, ‘they might not know English, so maybe I shouldn’t say anything,'” Tiffany recalled. “Most of the people over there would speak to me in English, and people were really nice. It was a good experience.”
She found the language barrier to be a little more difficult to navigate when it came time to get results.
“At the first meet I threw the best throw of my life,” said Tiffany. “When I heard the mark I didn’t understand what they said so I tried to imitate it as best I could to tell Niklas. He was surprised and went to check the mark himself. It was kind of funny; first I was confused about the mark and then we were happy because it was a personal record.”
The trip to Sweden didn’t start as well for Niklas, the 2006 West Region runner-up in the discus. Niklas became ill when he arrived in Sweden but overcame it to win the Swedish Championships in the discus and continued on to compete in the European Championships.
“It was weird to compete against some of the men I had watched growing up,” recalled Niklas. “I was competing against a former Olympic Champion and the current Olympic champion. They were some of my idols growing up, and all of a sudden I was competing with them. You can’t get star struck or you won’t perform well. It would be like a kid getting to go up against LeBron James. They would probably lose, but then they know what it takes to compete at that level.”
Tiffany has competed with some good athletes, but the European meets were full of world-class athletes and created a new challenge for her.
“It was great to compete against some of the best in the world,” said Tiffany. “When they would announce my name they would say ‘from the USA’ and I felt like I was representing the USA. At that point I had to just focus on my preparation and what I needed to do. I couldn’t get caught up in who was competing.”
Niklas’ success at the Swedish Championships led him to the European championships where some of the biggest names in the Eastern Hemisphere were present.
“At the European Championships I looked behind me and saw Lars Riedel from Germany, who won the 1996 Olympics,” Niklas said. “So here I am getting ready, running to keep warm and stretching, and one of the top athletes in the world is going to throw next. It’s hard not to get distracted.”
Their trip to Europe produced more than good marks in the javelin and discus. Niklas is half Swedish and has a lot of family that hadn’t met Tiffany. He also wanted her to be introduced to a different way of life.
“I wanted her to experience it,” he said. “It was cool to have her meet some of the Olympians on the Swedish national team, and to meet some of my family that lives in Sweden. She was able to visit places I had been while serving a 2-year mission for the LDS church. I wanted her to experience a new culture.”
Tiffany also got to see how the Europeans work out and prepare for competition.
“I got a new perspective, especially with how I should be lifting and doing my weight training,” Tiffany said. “We got to work out in the Swedish national team weight room, and the coaches taught me different techniques. I think that has a lot to do with how well I started throwing this year.”
The two Arrhenius’ have enjoyed sharing experiences together. Their relationship, which started their freshman year of college, has produced a bond that can even be felt in the ring.
“When I watch him throw I feel like it’s me,” Tiffany said. “It’s almost like we live through each other. We support each other, I feel for him when he competes. We are connected on so many levels so we feel so much more for each other in victory or defeat.”
Niklas tries to be on the sidelines to watch Tiffany throw and be as supportive as possible.
“It’s someone else to think about during the meet, which is mostly a good thing,” he said. “When she does well, I’m really happy for her. It’s more of an intimate sympathy, for good or bad. It’s also incentive to not over work myself, because track isn’t the most important thing in my life.”