Sixteen high school track athletes eagerly listened to comments by several U.S. Olympic champions, including gold medalist Allyson Felix, during Westmont’s Prospect Camp July 9. Felix earned 2012 gold medals in the 200 meter, 4-x-100 meter relay and 4-x-400 meter relay. Jeneba Tarmoh, 4-x-100 meter relay 2012 gold medalist, and Dawn Harper, 100-meter hurdles 2008 gold medalist and 2012 silver medalist, joined Felix in answering questions.
The Olympians, who have been training at Westmont to compete at the 2013 World Championships in Athletics Aug. 10-18 in Moscow, explained how they became professional athletes and discussed how they handle competition and set goals. “The athletes were cordial, engaging and genuine in sharing their responses,” says Russell Smelley, Westmont’s head track and field coach.
The normally quiet and friendly Felix said she’s had to create a different persona on the track, focusing on fully using her talents. Harper has learned to better focus before important races with large crowds and not get lost in the moment. Tarmoh spoke of getting her talent from God and wanting to honor Him with her best effort.
“They spoke from their hearts about the difficulty of training and competing at this level and how much work is required to reach their goals,” Smelley says. “They have enjoyed training in Santa Barbara and the quiet, relaxed atmosphere at Westmont.”
Smelley and Josh Priester, Westmont assistant track and field coach and director of the Women’s Athletic Performance Foundation, have attracted many world-class athletes to Westmont, including decathlon world-record holder Ashton Eaton. “This is a magnificent facility that allows the athletes to do their work in great weather,” Smelley says. “All of them want to come back to train next year.
“I enjoy people using the facility and having a good time doing their workouts. The everyday jogger, the kids sprinting around the field, the Olympians having their laughs and then doing extraordinary workouts are all a delight to me. The fact that people of all abilities feel welcome and at ease being here means a lot to me as I want to convey an atmosphere that encourages people to do their best.”