Overcoming hurdles helps Florida Tech hurdler reach Olympic dream

Persistence and practice are key for track athlete

TAMPA, Fla. – Alexis Santiago is running blind to reach her Olympic dream.

The Florida Tech freshman competed at the University of South Florida Invitational track and field event on Friday in the hurdling and relay competitions.

Santiago pushes herself to the limit physically and mentally when she trains, all in the hopes of becoming an Olympic competitor.

“When it’s just rep after rep and it’s just hours and running, those are the hardest days, but you just have to be mentally tough you have to want it enough,” Santiago said. “I really want it but you have to not think about it and sometimes you gotta run stupid, and just run blind until it’s done because if you think about it, it’s going to make it worse.”

The California native was unaware of her talent and had a different idea in mind when she entered the track.

“I showed up and I wanted to be a sprinter. I thought I was going to be the fastest woman in the world. My coach looked at me and he said you’re going to be a hurdler, you’re going to hurdle with us and I just started doing it,” Santiago said.

“It was one of those things that came naturally, my coach was so surprised that I could three step in the first practice which I honestly didn’t think was a big deal.”

Santiago has great performance on the track with a personal best in the 100 metre hurdles at 14.2 seconds and 45.3 seconds in the 300 metre hurdles. She was also an All-Collier County Athletic Conference selection in 2011, 2012, and 2014.

The FIT freshman recognized that pressing on towards her aspirations of competing in the Olympics will eventually get her to where she wants.

Santiago knows how to appreciate the value of setting high goals and standards.

Alongside her coach’s guidance, she has proved to herself that she can make it. Putting in extra effort to achieve her best is no chore for Santiago.

Giving up doesn’t exist because challenges are just another hurdle to be defeated for the freshman.

“I work hard and do my best. I do extra practices and I don’t complain. I love track more than anything,” said Santiago. “I don’t question my coach, I ask him questions but I don’t talk back. I trust him.

Keeping an open mind, Santiago remains unsure of which Olympic games she wants to participate in but, she is preparing her mentality to make it.

“I thought Beijing was pretty awesome, London would have been great too,” Santiago said. “Honestly wherever it is I will go there, I don’t mind. That is the ultimate goal, that is the dream.”

 

Follow Naté Maetzener on Twitter @taymaetz