Simeon signs Team MHL off from Rio 2016 with a Personal Best

18-year-old, Marshallese runner, Richson Simeon, broke his Personal Best by six hundredths as he recorded a time of 11.81 seconds in the Men’s 100m at the Olympic Stadium.

After his moment under the spotlight, Simeon mulled over his race, “There weren’t many expectations on me today, other than to come out here and run my fastest, which I have done”.

The ecstatic Simeon, who enjoyed his fair share of attention in the Mixed Zone after the race, was evidently happy with his performance, and understandably too as it was only the fifth time the teenager had competitively run in an event, adding “I never thought I’d do this in a million years and to beat my Personal Best is a dream come true”.

It’s been a surreal journey to get to Simeon’s current position, and that was rounded off when the young man was joined on the training track by none other than the current Olympic and World Champion, Usain Bolt, who was keen to know the story of the Marshallese athlete.

Relocating with his family from the Marshall Islands to Sacramento, California as a child, Simeon became a prominent high school football player at McClatchy High school.  His speed as a football running back was recognized and he was approached to participate in time trials for the 100m and 200m sprints. Specializing in track and field following his graduation from high school in 2015 felt like the direction where Simeon could excel with further training and brought him to this Olympic moment for which Simeon had “no words for the journey”.

Talking about the support he has been receiving in general, Simeon thanked the Marshall Islands National Olympic Committee for their support.

“Richson is one of those athletes you know will be committed to a challenging training schedule,” said MINOC Secretary General Terry Sasser.  “His family is very supportive of his efforts and attending college in the United States will afford him some great coaches and competition opportunities.  MINOC will certainly invest in his efforts as we recognize his work ethic, attitude and potential.”

Simeon added, “A lot of people I’ve never spoken to before just started contacting me. It’s been amazing, I am lost for words”.

Although he was competing on the biggest stage, inside a 56,000 seater stadium, Simeon stated that he didn’t feel the size of the occasion until he was in the starting blocks and the starters orders began, explaining afterwards;

“It hit me in the blocks and I didn’t get the start I wanted, but I managed to pull it back later on”.

After Simeon’s dream transformed into a reality, one might have thought that he might take a couple of days off to let it all sink in, but not for Simeon, the athlete explained that there’s only one way to get better, and that is to train harder, which is why he continues his training here in Rio following his competition, showing exactly the work ethic and determination that has got him to where he is now. 

Reflecting on the run, President Kramer of the Marshall Islands National Olympic Committee, was full of praise for Simeon, “It’s a fantastic performance, from an athlete representing a nation that doesn’t have the global sporting prowess, and it’s a performance which adds to the success of Marshallese athletes throughout these games”.

By Simon Thompson of The Reporters' Academy


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