Olympic Newbies: Late bloomer Ronda Whyte revels in her first GamesFriday, July 23, 2021
Ronda Whyte never saw athletics as her main career path. Now she's going to the Olympic Games.
The 2017 National Champion booked her spot to the Tokyo Games after finishing second in the women's 400m hurdles at the National Senior Championships in June.
“I'm feeling very elated to be an Olympian. It's such a refreshing feeling to know that you've worked hard for four years and the hard work has finally paid off”
The goal of making an Olympic team was far from her mind growing up but Sprintec Track Club Head Coach Maurice Wilson made it a reality after being impressed with her in 2013.
“I wasn't really an athlete. I ran in one or two meets but that was really it,” she said.
“When I got accepted to GC Foster College, I came as an academic student. Track and field wasn't my number one priority but coach discovered me when I ran at a sports day.”
Four years after making athletics the priority, she announced herself locally when she stunned the likes of Ristananna Tracey and Janieve Russell to win the national title and qualify for the World Championships in London.
The former Magotty High School student, who had never experienced the thrills of running at an ISSA Girls Championships, says she wants to inspire young people who struggle with fear and doubt.
“If you have a dream, don't give up on your dream. It doesn't matter what people say,” she said. “When I just started, I couldn't run properly, my hands were all over the place, everything was just off for me. But overtime, if you don't give up, you're going to see your dreams come true, trust me.”
Despite her late start, the 30-year-old has had relative success in her event on the world stage. She made the semi-finals of the 2017 World Championships in London, she finished fourth at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia and she won gold at the 2019 Central American and Caribbean Games in Colombia.
She may not be a favourite for a medal in Tokyo this summer, but her plans are simple.
“My main objective is to stay healthy, stay focused and to follow exactly what my coach says.”
Whyte has a season's best 54.33 seconds which she set in May in Florida, just short of the personal best of 54.29 seconds she set back in 2017. She's currently ranked 27th in the 400m hurdles, with Tokyo-bound teammates Janieve Russell and Leah Nugent both placed in the top 15.
The women's 400m hurdles at the Tokyo Olympics will begin on Friday, July 31.
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