What events did you steer her toward?
I was the coach of the youth national team that went to worlds in Cali, Colombia, in 2015. I had many stars. She was one of them. She won the 400 hurdles, but I knew back then she could have been in any event and done well. I wanted her to anchor the mixed 4×400-meter relay, but she was having a little problem with her leg and we didn’t want her to get hurt. We probably would have set a youth record that would have been untouched.
How did she land on the 400 hurdles?
As a youth, with her dad coaching her, she qualified in the 400 hurdles for the junior team. She started it very young. Her family focused her on it, which is how you qualify for the junior team at 15 and the Olympic team as a high schooler. The thing is, there is so much more in her. She can run a fabulous 100 hurdles and the 200, and she is a fabulous long jumper. I think she could compete in everything from the 800 down to the 100.
Where does she get her drive?
One thing I have watched as she grew is, she is a child of God and gives God the glory, and that is a part of her success and channeling what she wants to do. To be a champion is innate, and it comes from the heart.
What was the most important thing you think you instilled in her?
Believing in who she was. The confidence. Step on that line and believe in you and use your God-given talent to do what you are supposed to do. That is what I instilled in her. You are competing against the world, across the globe in another country, and you are competing for your country. You have to step up. Your team is counting on you to bring back gold for your country.
What would you like to see her do next?
She could set a world record in the 400. In nationals, she was beating some girls’ times in the 400 flat with hurdles in front. That speaks volumes about what she could do. If you are capable of doing those things, I think you should do it. That helps what you are doing in your main event not get stale, and it will make your 400 hurdles that much faster. So why not?