July 22, 2013
“For me, this is why I run, to put on my country’s colors: red, white and black. It just means the world to me.”
Those are the words of Alena Brooks, a few months ago, while the college track season was still going. In August, the Trinidad & Tobago native will represent her country on one of the highest possible levels, at the IAAF World Championships.
“Right now I’m still kind of in awe of things, but it really just means a lot to me,” she said. “It’s such an honor to represent my country on a big stage. We’ve never had a 4x4 relay at Worlds. It’s a really big deal to me and to the rest of my teammates. I just feel blessed.”
Brooks anchored Trinidad’s 4x400-meter relay to a first-place finish at the CAC Games in Mexico. Moscow, Russia, her next destination, was on her mind more than the gold medals she and her teammates earned.
“We were in first place when I got the baton,” Brooks said. “Before we ran, our main goal and objective was not really for placing, but to get a time to qualify us for Worlds.”
Their winning time of 3:30.64 was well below the qualifying standard, securing the first World Championships berth for a Trinidad 4x400m relay.
During the 2013 collegiate season Brooks, made her third NCAA West Preliminary appearance and set the second-best indoor and outdoor 800m times in school history. After Gophers’ head coach Matt Bingle worked with her during the year, Brooks returned home to Trinidad to build on that training with Dr. Ian Hypolite, who has coached her since 2007.
Instead of her usual five days of training, Brooks began to train twice daily for six days a week in preparation for international competition. When she arrived in Mexico for the CAC Games, Brooks found that the meet atmosphere intensified along with the training.
“I haven’t been to the Olympics, but I’d say it’s like the Olympics,” she said. “The fans in Mexico really like track. They always want to stop you and take pictures if you’re warming up. They want autographs. It’s really energetic.”
Brooks, who will leave this week to train in Finland before going on to Russia, doesn’t know what to expect from the fans in Russia. She hasn’t yet decided which tourist attractions to visit during her free time, nor has she researched her team’s competition.
“We’re focused on ourselves,” Brooks said. “We’re just taking it one step at a time. Our main goal at the World Championships right now is to just make the final. From there, we will keep going. We don’t want to rush everything.”
No matter what happens in Moscow, Brooks still has one indoor season left as a Golden Gopher. She hopes that the trip to Worlds will give her momentum heading into that final year.
“I think it’s really going to help me a lot,” Brooks said. “I feel motivation to just keep working hard after you see that one of your dreams or one of your goals is achieved. It’s just motivation to keep training harder, because you’re seeing things progress and you’re seeing things happen. You want to train harder so you can get more.”
Alena Brooks at the World Championships
Aug. 16: 4x400m relay heats
Aug. 17: 4x400m relay finals
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