Small People

Small People

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Our Road to the National Junior Olympics

I'm sure you've seen the slogan "Road to Rio" often recently. The Olympic qualifying trials have been fascinating to watch and follow over the past few weeks. The road I'm sharing today isn't to Rio, but it's just as big to Little Red. Her journey is the "Road to Sacramento."

Little Red has qualified to compete at the USA Track & Field National Junior Olympics in Sacramento, California the last week of July.

Her journey began in Spring 2015 when she first joined the track club in our town. This wasn't because she's a great runner (she's not!) but because we were looking for an activity that she would enjoy. She had tried ballet, soccer, and softball, but none of those were "her thing." We thought that we would have her try track because, even if she never became a track and field superstar, it would be a good activity that would keep her from just sitting on the couch all the time.

For the first couple of practices of a season, the kids are allowed to try all of the events that they can compete in, and then they narrow their events down to 3 to focus on for the season. I mentioned earlier that Little Red isn't really a runner, so she decided to try racewalk for one of her sessions. It was a perfect fit for her.

If you aren't familiar with racewalk (few people are), let me try to describe it. It's a very fast-paced walk in which athletes have 2 basic rules:

  1. One foot has to be in contact with the ground at all times.
  2. The front knee has to be straight when the foot makes contact with the ground.
This is a great video of racewalk basics.

Little Red did extremely well at racewalk in the 2015 track season. She came in first in the state association meet and first in the regional meet. So last summer, we packed up to go to Jacksonville, Florida, for the National Junior Olympics. Jacksonville is only a few hours drive away so this was an easy trip to make.

During a racewalk race, there are judges stationed around the track to monitor whether or not athletes are following the rules of keeping one foot in contact with the ground and keeping their knee straight. Each judge has paddles that they show athletes who are violating the rules as a warning. After giving warnings, they give red cards for athletes who are continuing to have bad form. If 3 different judges give red cards for an athlete, that athlete is disqualified. There is a DQ board next to the track during the race where they mark how many red cards an athlete has.

During the National Junior Olympic race last year, Little Red had one red card as she began her final lap. It was really hot and she struggled maintaining her form during her last lap. She finished the race with the 5th fastest time in the race but was told afterward that she was dq'ed - her time didn't count. She was devastated! 

For many athletes, this would be the end of their journey. They would become discouraged and quit.

Not my Little Red - she's a fighter. She immediately decided that she was going to work extra hard to get her form right so she could make it back to the National Junior Olympics this year. 

This past weekend, she competed in the Regional Meet. She came in 3rd in her racewalk - the top 5 qualify for the National Junior Olympics. Not only did she qualify, but she didn't receive one warning paddle in the entire race! Not only did she qualify for the National meet in racewalk but she also ended up coming in 5th in mini-javelin. 


I don't typically ask for money on this blog (or in my real life LOL). This trip is a chance of a lifetime and an opportunity for her to redeem her performance from last year, but it won't be cheap. We'll have to fly from South Carolina to California, stay for 5 days in a hotel, and rent a car for our time out there. We can't afford to take the whole family, so it will just be me and her going but it will still be expensive.

If you are inclined and able, we would welcome any donations for her to reach her goal of getting to Sacramento. You can contact me at the email address on my About Me page.

Another way you can help us is to use my Amazon Affiliate link below when you shop on Amazon. It doesn't change your cost at all.

If you aren't able to help, we completely understand and would appreciate prayers for safe travel. We would also appreciate you sharing this with others. Thanks!
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