Today Sanya Richards-Ross awaits the start of track competition at the London Games, where she is favored to win gold in the 400. Rewind the clock thirteen years exactly and the track superstar was busy setting USATF Junior Olympics youth girls records in the 100-meter and 200-meter races. This weekend those 1999 records were not just broken; they were destroyed.
Clermont native Kaylin Whitney put together two jaw-dropping races, running a 23.41 200-meter dash on Saturday and followed that up with an 11.59 in the 100-meter dash on Sunday. With the times from Richards equaling 11.61 and 23.63, respectively, the 200 meter dash time is especially impressive: a whopping .23 better than the legendary St. Thomas Aquinas alumna. Both times were wind legal.
The time is no freak thing for those who follow youth track & field. Whitney has left a wake of smashed meet and age group records behind her over the years, starting from about eight-years-old. She competed for years under the local Break Away Track Club, but now trains with a group of elite athletes under Coach Dennis Mitchell's Star Athletics--the club of 2004 100m Olympic gold medalist (and 2012 hopeful) Justin Gatlin. Earlier this track season Kaylin won big races with impressive times at BAYTAF, AAU Club Championships and Jimmy Carnes Indoor.
The exciting thing for us here in Florida is the many female sprinting legends that have passed through our midst: Erika Whipple, Sanya Richards, Brittany Jones, Ebony Eutsey, Robin Reynolds, Octavious Freeman, etc. And every time we think there may be a lull in that continuous lineage--such as a year like this one where Shayla Sanders, Robin Reynolds, and Tristie Jonson all graduate--Florida fans are always rewarded with a fresh batch of superstars that we come to take for granted.
scary thrilling thing is that before she even hits her first high school meet (she will be attending East Ridge this year as a freshman) her 200-meter time of 23.41 would already place her #8 all-time on the high school list! That is in front of Teona Rodgers and just behind Ericka Whipple. WOW!
Congrats to Kaylin, her family, and her coaches. We look forward to following her career closely for the next four years and beyond!