Trial & Triumph
In life, we find ourselves constantly chasing after something we truly desire. The relentless pursuit of one's goals is something motivated individuals take pride in. Regardless of how many times a person fails, the end result is just a testament of the journey and all the obstacles they have been through. Kenyattia Hackworth is a prime example of how to continue moving forward even in the most difficult times. Her pursuit to compete and win an Olympic medal is just as strong as her will to never give up.
Since childhood, Kenyattia has always been involved in some sport activities. It wasn't until her middle school years, that she discovered her passion for track and field. Kenyattia developed her skills to become one of the top female track athletes in the state of Alabama. Early on, she began to attend outdoor track meets at different universities across the south.
“I was racing against some college kids, and I was beating them,” Kenyattia stated. “Coaches and recruiters were asking,”‘who was this girl?” I still remember the announcement like it was yesterday. ‘She's only twelve, she can't be recruited right now.’”
By the time Kenyattia was a sophomore in high school, she had built a reputation and following amongst college coaches and recruiters. However, her sure shot at competing on the collegiate level, quickly came tumbling down when she tore her ACL during her high school junior season.
“11th grade year I really started to get a lot of offers but unfortunately I tore my ACL, so now all of a sudden, it was like all the phone calls stopped and I had to go through the process all over again,”explained Kenyattia.
She began the rehab process and was able to complete her senior year of high school. Kenyattia later received a scholarship to run track for Louisiana Tech University and completed her freshman year at Tech, but later transferred when her coach received another job opportunity.
“My coach at the time left Tech and went to Texas. I felt like that's who recruited me and that's who I wanted to coach me. I had a really good season under him my freshman year, so of course I wanted to follow him,” said Kenyattia.
Because of transfer rules set by the NCAA, Kenyattia was forced to attend Hinds Junior College her sophomore year. This was another setback that could have easily derailed her from her passion. Instead, Kenyattia put in the work and dominated the JUCO competition. She won Indoor Nationals and received a scholarship to the University of Kentucky.
“The competition level was definitely higher attending an SEC school, but it made me work harder to get better and develop my skills further,” stated Kenyattia.
After graduating from the University of Kentucky in 2015, Kenyattia stayed in Kentucky to train for the Olympics. She competed in the outdoor season receiving olympic “A” standard and was able to qualify for trials. Heading into Olympic trials, Kenyattia was ranked number one in the nation in long jump. Once again, everything was going as planned until May 28th, 2016.
“I ended up getting an injury in my jump foot. It was my navicular bone to be exact,” stated Kenyattia. “It was a stress reaction, so if I would have kept training on it, it would have turned into a fracture,” She explained
With only a month before Olympic trials, Kenyattia could barely put pressure on her foot. She continued to do what little training she could, all while trying to stay positive. Kenyattia pushed through her injury and competed in the trials despite the pain caused by her injury. She didn’t get the results she wanted, placing 7th overall.
“Knowing I left it all out there, I really didn't get upset at first. Especially looking at my circumstances,” stated Kenyattia. “I realized this was my first experience right after college. Most people don't even get this opportunity.”
After Olympic trials, Kenyattia continued to train and compete at the highest levels. She was invited to a few competitions in Europe, where she finished number 1 overall. After her experience overseas, Kenyattia made her way back to the states to continue her chase of becoming an olympian.
The will to never give up and the reward of reaching a specific goal is exactly what drives Kenyattia. Even after a recent re-injury to her ACL, her goal and passion for the sport still remains the same. While documenting her story, one of my final questions was “how can you still be so positive and reassuring in your journey after all the obstacles you've gone through?”. Her response was what any true champion would have said.
“Through prayer, and also I've learned that just because storms come into your life it doesn't mean you just give up. I believe that I came way too far just to give up now,” explained Kenyattia.
Kenyattia is now training and preparing for the 2020 Olympics, where she hopes to not only become an olympic athlete but also break a few records.