Things I know for sure: 1. I cannot run track and field forever (nor do I want to). 2. I want to have the biggest impact possible on the sport that I love. 3. Just running isn’t enough.
The Akinosun Elite Invitational is another part of the impact I intend to have on my sport.
If you’re new to my page – I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago; Naperville/Aurora to be specific. It’s been about 9 years since I actually lived in the city (and I currently have no plans of moving back – sorry mom), but I still consider it home.
If you know anything about midwest winters (and springs) – you know that they are COLD.
Running high school track in the Chicagoland area meant I spent all winter and most of spring training inside. But, inside did not mean on an indoor track. Inside was high school hallways and stairwells, indoor soccer fields, treadmills in gyms – basically anything we could do to avoid being outside. Every once in awhile we’d get on a flat (non-banked), 160m-200m track and get to practice, sometimes race.
In order to compete on a good indoor track, you had to travel, often times really far. It made no sense to me that there was not a single elite competition in a 100 mile radius from the city or facility to host it.
When I heard the Gately Indoor Track Center was being built, I immediately knew I wanted to bring an elite high school invitational home. To a city where every high school track and field athlete would benefit from it. I wanted to give back to the track and field community that I came from and still supports me today.
The Covid Struggle
It’s no secret or surprise that the current covid-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on sports. Current high school seniors had their entire junior track season taken away from them and the hopes of having a senior season were starting to look pretty dim. With city and state restrictions, not wanting to take the risk traveling and the usual state of Illinois high school track – there were not many opportunities to compete. Despite the struggles, setbacks and hurdles (and my goodness were there MANY), this only increased my desire to have the meet go on!
Over 300 athletes competed in the very first Akinosun Elite Invitational, which also happened to be the very first meet at Gately Indoor Track. There were no spectators. Athletes were only allowed in the building 45 minutes before their event and were asked to leave immediately after. Everyone wore a mask 100% of the time, including the athletes while they were competing (except for me when I took a few pictures). Blocks were sanitized in between each use. Shot putters had to get their own instruments. Because of covid, there were no relays, no pole vault, and no high jump.
But the meet was a success.
As I handed out shirts to winners and medals to 1st – 3rd place so many athletes thanked me for the opportunity to compete. An opportunity I wish I had when I was in high school.
Click here to see the official meet page, view results & watch footage from the meet!
I did not do this alone. There are a plethora of people that helped put this meet together, without them it could not and would not have happened. Thank you.
Finally, my only prayer for this meet was that it would bring God glory. I hope to impact not only the sport but the people in it.
Akinosun Elite Invitational will be back bigger & better in 2022. Until then its all about Tokyo2020ne