A 5th place finalist at the 2010 World Junior Championships after falling in the finals of the 2009 World Youth Championships, Jamaican schoolgirl Ristananna Tracey has been turning heads more than ever this season with her speed and endurance on the track, and her hairdo.
Her run-away performances culminated at last weekend’s Penn Relays in Philadelphia, when she set a new meet 400m hurdles record, ran a 4x800m split that equaled the fastest ever at Penn, and copped the award for most outstanding athlete of the relay carnival. Incidentally, last year she placed second in the hurdles at the Carnival, clocking 59.42secs.
Hot as she has been this season, Tracey didn’t compete at the Carifta Games right in her own backyard.
“I felt a little disappointed because I know the 400m hurdles would have been mine,” she says. “But because of the schedule between Penns and Carifta, the coaches had to make a decision.”
However, from development meets to Champs to Penn, Tracey has been as fierce in the flat 400m as she has been in the 400m hurdles and the 800m. But that’s not all; she runs a mean leg on the 4x4 and 4x8 relays, and likes to motivate her teammates, even encouraging them along with her in a race.
Her impressive athletics career so far is bound to stand out for all recruiters to see: personal bests (PB) 52.38 in the 400m; 55.81 in the 400m hurdles (a record), and 2:03.97 in the 800m. Perhaps her most outstanding performance to date was her decimation of the 2001 Champs Class 1 hurdles record that belonged to Melaine Walker, now the defending 400m hurdles Olympic and Worlds champion.
Tracey anchors the 4x4 at Penn.
Ridley Ingram photo
“How do you do it, Ristananna?” was the question I asked her after she was honored at Penn for taking the High School Girls' 400mH Championship of America in a record 56.17, running a 2:03.17 split on the winning High School Girls' 4x8 Championship of America team, and anchoring the High School Girls 4x4 Championship of America team to 3rd place.
“Train hard, win easy,” she said, smiling.
Now that Central Champs, Champs, UTech Classic, and Penn Relays, among other meets, have come and gone and graduation is here, the rigors of balancing academic studies and track in high school are about to end for Tracey. Yet, she will likely continue turning heads in college and beyond. But with her eye on one of three careers – cosmetology, journalism or professional athletics – the world is her oyster. It is, therefore, not far-fetched that this young lady, who obviously has a flair for chic hairstyles (photos above) and an interest in applying beauty care, could soon be enhancing the appearance of fashion-forward men and dolling-up fashion-conscious women from head to toe, writing about them, or being the poster girl for a leading sponsor in the track and field world. After all, she has the look and a pleasant personality to boot.
In the 1980s American sprinter FloJo set herself apart by making a fashion statement while running fast. She wowed the world with her running attire that consisted of a variety of outfits (some lace, some fluorescent, some bearing one leg), the hairdos, and her trademark painted claw-like nails. She made speed fashionable.
More recently we see the far less flamboyant Cuban triple jumper, Yargelis Savigne, with her signature look storming down the runway: colorful knee-high socks and ever-changing fabulous hairstyles that make her standout from her competitors. Then there’s Croatian high jumper Blanka Vlasic, who, with a face fit for the cover of a fashion magazine, is known for her engaging personality while competing.
A Look of Her Own?
While young Jamaican athletes have become fashion conscious and are feeling better about themselves during competition, especially overseas, Tracey seems on her way to become another athlete to grace the track with a look of her own that stays with fans. Her choice of hairstyles, interest in cosmetology, and her athletic ability suggest she could be.
But before she gets there, she will be focusing on what it takes to achieve overall success. Soon to sit the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), a post-secondary education qualification, before she leaves Edwin Allen High School, Tracey is hoping to land a scholarship to put her on track. And although she’s not thinking of any particular college – whether in Jamaica or abroad – one attractive possibility for her is joining her sister, Nikita, who attends Oklahoma Baptist University in the US. The siblings shared much success as members of the Edwin Allen team.
For now though, the confident 19-yr-old Tracey’s next big dates on the track are the Jamaica National Trials in June, where she will seek to book her place on the team to the World Championships in Daegu, and the Pan-Am Juniors July 22 to 24 in Florida. Significantly, her 55.81 hurdles time meets the IAAF’s World Championships ‘B’ qualifying standard.