Athlete Spotlight - Shalonda Solomon|
Aug. 23, 2011
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Courtesy of USA Track & Field
Judging by her humble personality, you wouldn't think Sholonda Solomon owns the fastest time in the world in 2011 in the 200 meters. When asked about the sport she loves, she talks about respect for her teammates, she speaks confidently about herself, and shows a strong Christian faith.
Due to her quiet demeanor, it may become easy for Solomon - a three-time NCAA Champion and 11-time All-American under Curtis Frye at South Carolina from 2005-07 - to get lost in the background. But her success on the track this season shows otherwise.
All of these traits and accomplishments will be on display when Solomon leads a deep and talented Team USA field into the 200m when the 2011 IAAF World Outdoor Track and Field Championships begin in Daegu, South Korea August 27-September 4.
And it's a loaded Team USA field to say the least. Just how deep is Team USA in the 200m? The Americans currently own 14 of the top 15 times run in the world this year; two of which Solomon is responsible for.
"You always hope for a clean sweep," Solomon said about Team USA's chances on the awards podium in Daegu. "We will go out there and represent Team USA with the best of our abilities. We just hope for the best."
And the best is primarily what Americans have done in the event so far in 2011. Solomon teams with Carmelita Jeter, Kimberlyn Duncan and Allyson Felix to give Team USA a realistic shot at a clean sweep in Daegu. Solomon, Jeter and Duncan are all ranked in the top three in the world, respectively, and Felix is the three-time defending World Champion in the event.
While none of it translates into results until competition begins, the resumes are impressive indeed.
"We have so much pride in representing the U.S.," Solomon said. "The people and the staff are amazing. When you put that USA on your chest, you are representing more than just yourself."
For Solomon, this trip to the World Championships not only comes well deserved, but has been a long time coming. As an American sprinter, she was consistently facing the best in the world and stiff competition for a spot on the world or Olympic teams. She was always in the mix, but couldn't quite make that first Team USA until 2011.
She was sixth in the 100m at the U.S. Outdoor Championships in 2009. She was seventh in the 200m in the Olympic Trials in 2008. And, as luck would have it, she placed second in the 200m at the U.S. Championships in both 2006 and 2010, but in seasons with no world or Olympic meet. However, following a strong season in the Diamond League in 2010 and into 2011, Solomon was poised to get over that barrier in her career.
She blistered the field at the 2011 U.S. Outdoor Championships in a personal best and world-leading time of 22.15 seconds to secure her spot in Daegu. As she crossed the finish line, it was a step into a new segment of her career.
"It was a huge step forward," Solomon said of the win at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. "It's truly a blessing since I have been in the mix for a long time. To say that I'm the 2011 U.S. champion is something they can never take away."
It was a huge step onto the world stage for Solomon. And while her current world ranking is something to be proud of, rankings aren't anything to be satisfied with, as any competitor will attest.
"You can't be satisfied," Solomon quickly stated. "You always have to try your best and do your best at all times. Anybody can be a champion at any time."
If the national title Solomon won in Eugene was a huge step forward, it is difficult to measure exactly how gratifying a world medal in Daegu would be. That's also something that will never be taken away from her.
"It would mean the world to me," she said about winning a medal at the World Championships. "Winning at U.S. Championships then to get a medal at the World Championships would be a huge stride forward."