Aug. 9, 2016
By Brad Muller | More Features
Aliyah Abrams spent her freshman year for the South Carolina track and field team enjoying one of the best seasons by a Gamecock in recent years after earning First Team All-America honors in the outdoor 400 meter relay and Second Team All-America honors in the 400 meter dash. Now she hopes to make more history as she represents Guyana at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
"It's something you always dream about when you are young and running track," Abrams said. "It was always something I had planted in my mind, but I didn't think it was going to happen so soon. I was very excited when I learned I made the team."
Abrams was born in Brooklyn, New York, and has lived outside of Atlanta since she was three. With both of her parents hailing from Guyana, the 19 year old enjoys dual citizenship. The small South American nation has earned only one Olympic medal in the history of the summer games with a bronze medal in boxing in 1980.
"It would mean a lot to medal," Abrams said. "I grew up here in the United States, but my parents didn't let me forget their culture. Every day is a reminder of where they are from with their accent and the food we eat. It's all the stuff that they grew up on, so I grew up on it too."
While she hasn't spent much time in Guyana, she has a sense of pride for the country she will represent in the Olympics.
"I went there about a month ago," Abrams said. "It's very colorful. You have a lot of very fresh food. It's different from what I am used to here in the United States, but it is very nice there. My mom says Guyana is called the `land of many waters' because there are a lot of rivers that run through it, and it is home to the world's largest (single drop) waterfall (Kaieteur Falls)."
I'm looking forward to possibly running against the American runners ...If time allows, I would love to watch gymnastics and possibly the basketball games and maybe some swimming. There are a lot of great things going on.
Abrams began running competitively in the sixth grade, and it didn't take long for her to realize she was good at it. After an outstanding first year at the collegiate level, she appreciates the efforts of head coach Curtis Frye and all that the track and field program has to offer in helping her fulfill her dream of competing in the Olympics.
"Coach Frye has coached a lot of Olympians and professional athletes, so getting used to how intense he wants us to work out and prepare is really good preparation for me to compete at this level," Abrams said. "I've also learned that I have to eat a lot better. I took advantage of the fact that we have a nutritionist here at South Carolina. I also made sure I had better recovery every day. I was always in the training room making sure I'm good for the next day."
Abrams was good on a lot of days for the Gamecocks. In addition to her two All-America nods, she also finished the outdoor season as the nation's fastest freshman in the 400 meters. Still, she hopes to do better.
"In the first year, I was just trying to get used to all of the meets and all of the travel," Abrams said. "I knew it would be a lot to adjust to in my first year, but I did really well, so I'm happy with my performances last year. I just like competing and making my time better."
As she prepares to run against the world's best at the Olympics, Abrams is excited to take in all that she can with her experience.
"I'm looking forward to possibly running against the American runners such as Allyson Felix," Abrams said. "If time allows, I would love to watch gymnastics and possibly the basketball games and maybe some swimming. There are a lot of great things going on."
Abrams joins a strong contingent of South Carolina track and field alumnae competing in the Olympics this summer along with Natasha Hastings (USA), Kierre Beckles (Barbados), and Jeannelle Scheper (St. Lucia).
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