My heart was pounding. My breath was quickened. I was neck and neck with a Uniondale track runner. We were about 200 meters from the finish line. All I could think about was my coach, Derek, shouting the words “kick. ” He would tell us that so that we can give it our all the last few meters before the finish line. Time wasn’t on my side right now. Although out of breath and exhausted from running, I couldn’t stop without crossing this finish line and come in first. I was in a prime position to take home this title- 1st place. I took a deep breath, adjusted my form.
The next thing I heard was cheers of applause. I did it. I finished the race and came in first. A big bronze trophy was my reward. What a sense of fulfillment! Then I woke up. It was all a dream. I can’t wait to be running in the Olympics. Without realizing it, my mind goes back to when I first fell in love with track and field. It was the summer of 2008 and the Olympics were taking place in Beijing, China. I was staying at a hotel in Orlando, Florida and one evening my mother turned on the TV to the Olympics. Up until then, I never took an interest in the Olympics.
But once I saw Allyson Felix sprinting by this runner who she once tied with the 4X400m Relay, I was captivated. The rest of the night I stayed up watching track and field. I didn’t know it then, but that was the night that brought my love for the sport. Since the age of four I had an interest in moving. I am an active person who enjoys participating in physical activity. There has always been a natural talent of speed in my family. When my father was younger, he would run marathons and come within the top ten. My brother is also fast, not faster than me though, but he too uses his speed in basketball.
He dominates the other players. Coach Derek is an amazing person and I was honored to have him as my coach. He was a well respected police officer who dedicated his spare time to teaching Youth Track and Field every Tuesday and Thursday. Some days I didn’t feel like going to practice due to having a stressful day at school, but as soon as I saw Derek and he said,” Hello, Ty” my energy immediately changed. (“Ty” is my nickname. ) At the track meets I didn’t really get nervous. I was excited for the most part, but sometimes I world bring myself down and think that I couldn’t run a certain event or that I wouldn’t come in first place.
Derek was always there to remind me and so I can convince myself that I was good enough and that I could do it. I am so grateful for that man. An outspoken individual who not only knew the sport, but ran track himself in his younger years, gave me a speech before my last field event. Words that he told me before some of my biggest competitions are still fresh in my head as if he told me yesterday. I cannot stress enough the importance of proper form. The athlete must look up, not at the ground, while their hands should be in an unclenched fist with your fingertips touching your palms.
Your arms cooperate with your legs pushing you to go forward. The elbows should be bending about 90 degrees. The posture should be straight “tall” and your feet should be lightly hitting the ground- running on your tippy toes. Proper form is the key to good running. Speed plays an important role in a race. Flexibility will help with speed during a race as well. Last year at the 2012 Olympics, Allyson Felix won three world titles at distance and achieved the Olympic 200 title. During her teenage years, she earned the title: the fastest girl on the planet.
When she was a child, her role model was her mother and track icon Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Eleven months of the year Allyson is training. I have the most respect for Allyson Felix. She trains for five hours – an hour of warm up, two hours on the track, then the gym for two hours. Additionally, she eats healthy fruits, vegetables and protein. On top of her busy schedule, she always finds time to give back to her community. She is involved with USATF’s Win with Integrity program. A highly motivated and devoted runner, I aspire to be just like her when I get older.
Watching her run inspires me to prevail and try harder, not just in running but as an overall human being. Like Allyson Felix, my mother is my role model and inspiration. My mother is a combination of qualities in those that I surround myself and impact my life. My mother attended every track meet I ever had and was in the stands cheering me on. They usually took place on Saturdays in the early morning. If I ever had doubts before a race, she was right there reminding that I’m going to do something that I love and how great I am at the sport. I have 26 first place ribbons and 8 first place medals from my years at my first track league, PAL.