ATHLETE PROFILE: Eric Tang
Junior jumper Eric Tang had an outstanding weekend at the University Athletic Association Track and Field Championships. Last weekend the Tartan men’s track team competed hard and took home second place for the second year in a row.
Tang’s accomplishments stood out on this day. He took home an individual title for long jump, with a jump of 6.79 meters, and a second-place finish in the triple jump with another jump of 13.35 meters. The Tartan recently spoke with Tang about his track and field accomplishments and his life at Carnegie Mellon.
Tartan: When did you start participating in track and field and why?
Tang: I started track as a junior in high school. My high school track coach was really cool, one of those coaches who can really inspire you. He recruited me after a basketball game. He said I might be good in the 400-meter. After the first race I decided it was just too painful, and I switched to jumps.
T: Did you always know that you wanted to jump in college?
Tang: I think things just happen when the time comes. I never really thought about doing track at all. I actually came to Carnegie Mellon wanting to play basketball. It didn’t work out that well, but I still wanted to compete in athletics at a college level. Why waste it if you have the talent?
T: What is the best part about being a Carnegie Mellon student athlete?
Tang: Compared to Division I schools, we don’t have as much a time commitment. I was recruited by UCSB [University of California, Santa Barbara] when I graduated from high school, but I went to talk to their coach and realized that they have practice twice a day, and I didn’t think it’s possible to do that and ECE. Here people are really smart, and you feel like you are growing intellectually.
T: What is the hardest part about being a student athlete?
Tang: There is very little recognition. Sometimes it’s hard to find motivation; you have to really like what you do. Although it’s not as time-consuming as Division I track, it’s still quite a bit of time, and very often it interferes with other things like school and your other activities.
T: Do you have any pre-race rituals or superstitions?
Tang: I like to go to the sandpit before the meet starts just to get into the “zone.” I would stand in the runway for a bit and close my eyes and imagine myself breaking the world record. It doesn’t happen that often, but thinking about it makes me more focused.
T: How do you gain your competitive edge?
Tang: Concentration. You perform the best when the body and the mind come together.
T: Where is your favorite place to compete and why?
Tang: The Armory in New York [City], it’s like one of the best indoor tracks in the world.
T: What is your most meaningful accomplishment to date?
Tang: Athletic-wise, I guess breaking the school record in long jump. Otherwise, I won third place in the Tepper Venture Challenge. It’s something I really wanted to do, and I value that a lot.
T: How supportive is your family?
Tang: My parents don’t really care about my athletics as long as I do well in school. Sometimes my dad tells me to quit track because it takes too much of my time and I should focus on “other things.” My mom doesn’t know much about athletics, but she says it’s good for guys to play sports. They are both from Asia, where the culture is very different. Athletics is almost strictly an occupation there.
T: What do you plan to do after graduation?
Tang: I know that I want to go to grad school in the e-commerce program here. After that, I don’t know yet. I used to think I want to work in a big tech company for a couple of years and start my own company after that. But if I find a good opportunity, I might just start one right after I get out of college.