U.S. pole vault ace Demi Payne has an alter ego. And an unhealthy obsession with Britney Spears.

1. I’m obsessed with chalk

“I am obsessed with chalk. I must go through a block every practice! There is no part of my hand that does not have chalk on it before I jump – and even if I am covered in chalk I then have to re-do the process again. It is crazy.

“I like the feeling of the chalk to pop off the pole, but [it makes] the chalk goes everywhere. I go through at least three blocks of chalk a week and I must put so much money in the school vending machine to buy the chalk.”

2. I have an alter ego called The Payne Train

“Lots of people might not know this: I have an alter ego called The Payne Train. The only time we see The Payne Train come out is on the pole vault runway.

“The first time I experienced The Payne Train was when I jumped 4.75m indoors in New Mexico last year. I remember standing on the runway feeling so intense and zoned in.

“Now every time I step on the runway I experience that same exact feeling. I think the Demi Payne off the track is a little more laid-back, goofy and awkward, and I would be a little intimidated by The Payne Train. As crazy as it sounds, The Payne Train is true.”

3. I was a huge Britney Spears fan

“When I was younger, I was obsessed with Britney Spears. I loved her and must have gone to at least ten of her concerts.

“I was a 100 per cent fan. I used to know every single word to all of her songs and my friends would come over and we would put on a Britney Spears concert for the family. She was pretty much all I would listen to at the time.

“As sad as it is to say, I’ve never met her – but there’s still hope that one day I will. I don’t know that today I am a die-hard fan, but if I did meet her I would probably just be really awkward. If Britney Spears did a track event, I would say she’s probably not a pole vaulter, but her body-type would be well suited to the javelin.”

Cover image by: SFA Athletics