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July 21, 2021
Femita Ayanbeku is June Athlete of the Month
AOM co-winner for June 2021
(Boston, MA) and
(MetroCobras, North Andover, MA) are the USATF New England (USATF-NE) Athletes of the Month for June 2021. Femita earned her award by breaking the American record in
the T64 division of the 100m race at the U.S Paralympic Trials in Minneapolis, Minnesota in a time of 12.84. Over the past few months, Samirah has built her reputation as one of the rising sprint stars in New England and Nationally with consistently impressive times. At the USATF-NE Youth Championship at Gordon College on June 19, Samirah finally broke the 24 second mark in the 200m race by cruising to a wind-legal 23.73 and a Massachusetts high school state record. Earlier in the month, she had tied her own state 100m record at 11.60.
, a Massachusetts native, initially got into track and field through Paralympic sprinter Jerome Singleton. After being donated a running blade, Femita fell in love with the sport and began training with long time New England collegiate and club coach Sherman Hart at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston (where she still trains). Fast forward to June 2021, when Femita found herself on the start line of the US Paralympic Trials with a shot at making the US National Team. Competing in the T64 Division 100m (the competition classification for single leg amputees below the knee),
Femita recalls her mindset before the race.
“Going into these races, I wasn't sure exactly where my
fitness level was at because it's not quite peak time, but I felt really good about my training.” After a strong start, a good transition, and with have a determined mindset, Femita broke the tape in an American record time of 12.84 seconds. Next up for her is the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, in late August. When not training, Femita spends as much time as possible hiking outdoors. (Interview below)
attributes her interest in track and field to her brother, her godfather, and her mother. Godfather Keith McDermott, former director of the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston, would bring her to the facility to watch meets, and after taking a liking to the sport, she joined the MetroCobras club. Her mother, Jamie Sims, competed for Boston University "so it’s in the genes”. By her high school years, Samirah found herself as one of the fastest runners in New England history and was nearing the 24 second barrier in the 200m. As her times approached that mark, though, “there was never a moment before a race when I explicitly thought about running a specific time. Before every major race in June, I felt prepared, fired up, and with just a hint of nerves.”
Being motivated to win each race is what drives her times and performances. At the USATF-NE Youth Championship at Gordon College, Samirah credits her eventual 23.73 performance largely to her teammate Mia Dansby. “[Mia] actually got out really hard and triggered a better rate of acceleration on my end. I didn’t expect the time by any means.”
Following her successful June, Samirah earned a pair of medals at the National Scholastic Athletic Federation "High School Nationals" in Eugene, Oregon during the first days of July. In winning the 200 in another personal best of 23.32, she established the all-New England High School record, and followed with a silver medal in the 100 in another Massachusetts record time of 11.51. Those medals were the first top 3 placings by a New England association runner in those events at the pinnacle meet for high school competitors aroud the country.
After a race in August in Texas, she'll report to the Villanova track for the first days of her own collegiate career. When not on the track, Samirah enjoys journaling, working as a babysitter, and enjoys a great slice of apple pie or a brownie with vanilla ice cream.
Full interviews can be found below. Please email any questions, comments or corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org
: Could you tell us a bit about your races at the US Paralympic Trials? Could you tell us
a bit about your mindset heading into the race, i.e., what you were hoping to accomplish, what goals youhad set for yourself? Was the American Record something you knew you could achieve heading into the race?
: I ran the 100m and 200m events at the US Paralympic Trials. I won the 100m race and set a new American Record of 12.84s. However, my 200m race did not go quite as planned. Going into these races, I
was not sure exactly where I was at because I know it's not quite peak time but I felt really good about my training. I always go into a race just telling myself to execute to the best of my ability. That means coming out strong and powerful, having a good transition, and just holding my form and speed all the way through. Breaking the American Record has been a goal of mine for a while now, so I'm very proud of that.
: How did you initially get into the sport of Track and Field?
: I was introduced to Track and Field through Jerome Singleton. He took me under his wing and let me train with him and my now-coach, Sherman Hart. I got a running blade donated to me and I became passionate about learning how to run - and from there I fell in love with the sport.
: With Tokyo right around the corner, what are you hoping to achieve?
I'm hoping to run the best race of my life. At the US Paralympic Trials, I definitely ran one of the best races of my life and I am hoping to do the same in Tokyo. I do not want to overthink it; I want to enjoy the experience, and run as fast as I can.
: You train at the Reggie Lewis Center with Sherman Hart, both well known names in the New England running community. How long have you been in the Boston area?
: I was born in Boston and raised in Randolph, Mass. I have lived in Massachusetts my whole life and do not plan on leaving anytime soon.
: What are some of your favorite things to do outside of running?
One of my favorite things to do is go hiking. I love to be active and outdoors and hiking is definitely a great workout but also a fun time.
Could you tell us a bit about your races over the month of June? Could you tell us a bit about your mindset heading into the first race where you broke 24 seconds, i.e., what you were hoping to accomplish, and what goals had you set for yourself? Was breaking 24 something you knew you could achieve heading into the race?
: There was never a moment where I explicitly thought before I race "I wanna break 24" or run this or that. Before every major race in June, I felt prepared, fired up, with just a hint of nerves. In Oregon and in Florida in particular, I wanted to win because every year i’ve inched closer to being at the top on a national scale. Seeing the competition as competitive as it was, I knew that I would have to fight.
The first time I broke 24, I was relaxed, eager to run because it was hot, but even more excited to finish because of it being the last race of the day. My teammate, Mia Dansby, actually got out really hard and triggered a better rate of acceleration on my end. I didn’t expect the times by any means.
How did you initially get into the sport of track and field?
My godfather, Keith McDermott, is a big track guy. He used to bring me to races at the Reggie Lewis in Boston and after taking a liking to it, I joined the MetroCobras. My mother also ran track collegiately so it’s in the genes.
With the outdoor season in full swing, what other races are on your schedule? What are some short and long term goals for yourself?
I’m getting ready to go to school at Villanova so I’m continuing to train and lift to get ready for the next phase. I’ll be in Texas early August to finish out the competitive year but that’s about it for me.
: What are some of your favorite things to do outside of running? School/Occupation, hobby, favorite ice cream flavor or dessert?
I love to write and like to journal when there’s a lot on my mind. I also do a lot of babysitting and work with kids. My favorite desert is apple pie or a brownie with vanilla ice cream.