Malcolm trains for final college race

Malcolm trains for final college race
04-11-14 MWTR Border Clash Yanique Malcolm Photo by Amelia J. Brackin

For many athletes, the story of their career is filled with memories of their childhood and learning to perfect their craft from an early age.

University of Alabama senior Yanique Malcolm’s story began a mere four years ago when she joined her high school track and field team in her hometown of Kingston, Jamaica.

Malcolm said she had little interest in running track and field until a “sports day,” where she competed against track team members.

“I wasn’t training or anything; I just decided one day that I was going to compete at my sports day and I did really well, so from that day on I decided to run track and field,” Malcolm said.

Prior to attending the University, Malcolm competed for Essex County, a Newark, New Jersey, junior college. When deciding where to transfer, Malcolm said she originally wanted to attend Texas Tech, but a visit to Tuscaloosa changed her decision.

“When I came to Alabama to visit – it was a last minute visit, too, because at the beginning I really wanted to go to Texas Tech – the coaches and staff made me feel welcome,” she said. “I felt really welcome and this felt like the school for me. I decided to come here because it was the right place for me.”

As her senior year at Alabama came to a close, Malcolm began to hit her stride and saw her training pay off in multiple ways.

Last month, she was selected to compete in the International Association of Athletics Federations World Relays, which were held May 24 to 25 in Nassau, Bahamas. She was one of 39 Jamaican athletes chosen to compete for her home country’s team.

Before competing in the relays, Malcolm won the 800 meter at the SEC Outdoor Championships. She also came in second at the 2014 SEC Indoor Championships, where she finished with a time of 2:03.97, setting the school’s indoor record for the 800.

At the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which begin Wednesday, June 11, in Eugene, Oregon, Malcolm said she is looking to continue her string of successes.

“I’m just going to go out there, execute my race, and hopefully I’ll get the win,” she said. “That’s what I’m here for. It’s my senior year, so I’ve been working for this championship. If all goes well, I’ll win the 800 and that will be a great thing for me.”

Alabama assistant coach Matt Kane, who works with sprints and hurdles, said Malcolm’s success has not come without its challenges, but that they would ultimately help her improve.

“She’s an incredibly hard worker. There was an absolute adjustment period coming in from junior college because our training program is vastly different than what she was accustomed to,” he said. “There were growing pains last year, but as she saw improvements, she got hungrier and hungrier. Every time she got better, she got more fuel. She actually works harder as she gets better.”

Kane said Malcolm has continued her hard work throughout this season, and her string of victories and opportunities only helped her grow more.

“As for this year, it’s been a continual building process. She’s gained confidence with each race. I think she put in a lot more work than she had ever done in her life last fall,” he said. “Getting to see some of the benefits of that during indoor season really helped her out. She started to gain confidence and made the NCAA Indoor Championship meet. That was a big step for her.

“Then she got an opportunity to run in the World Relays and continued to build. The building process probably culminated at the SEC Championships. Those two things – the SEC Championships and World Relays – happening at the same time was a big boost to her confidence.”

Kane said the key to track and field is being able to change, and that once Malcolm opened to change she began to excel in her race.

Malcolm is certainly no stranger to change, as marked by her moves from Jamaica to New Jersey to Alabama. However, one thing will stay the same for Malcolm after she finishes her career at the Capstone: she wants to keep running. While she says she’ll stay at the University to finish her degree, she hopes to qualify and continue competing, next time around for her home country.

(See also "Track and field team earns 14 wins in meet")

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