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Federal Way girl raises funds to represent northwest in Junior Olympics track relays
At just 11 years old, Anisha Greene has dreams of running in the Summer Olympics.
But before she can accomplish that goal, the Federal Way resident will first focus on the upcoming USA Track and Field Junior Olympics, of which she’ll represent Region 13 Pacific Northwest, comprised of Alaska, Oregon, Idaho and Washington.
From July 21-27, Greene will run two relays, the 200 meter and the 4x100 meter in Humble, Texas at the Turner Stadium.
“We are very proud of her work ethic,” said Anisha’s mom, Keshini Greene. “She has done an excellent job in school as well as become one of the most improved athletes on her team.”
However, to showcase that improvement, Anisha’s family had to set up a gofundme.com account to raise funds for her trip to Texas.
Keshini Greene got the idea after talking to some other moms from the track club Anisha is a part of.
She was drawn to the idea since the website can reach anyone around the world.
“That helped since I have a lot of family in Sri Lanka, Australia and in different parts of the U.S. It was easy for them to contribute to a common cause,” Keshini Greene said.
The Greenes were able to raise $1,250, which was $250 over their goal.
Keshini Greene said Anisha’s No. 1 supporters, her grandparents, donated the most toward her fundraising goal, which will fund her roundtrip airfare and hotel accommodations.
“It feels good to see that amount of support we have from our friends and family,” she said. “The encouragement that everyone is giving Anisha has given her a great sense of confidence. This has been a very humbling experience for us.”
With a love of art, reading and writing, Anisha wanted to contribute toward the cost of traveling to the Junior Olympics by entering herself in writing and drawing competitions.
“Most of my friends and family say I’m good when I do art, so I thought maybe I could use that toward the cost,” Anisha said, adding she simply went online to look for the opportunities.
Anisha became interested in running track about two-and-a-half years ago when her Green Gable Elementary school P.E. teacher introduced it to her class.
Now a student at the Federal Way Public Academy, Anisha trains with coach Johnnie Williams at the High Voltage Track Club in Seattle and coach Lou Kristopher at Blueprint Athletic Performance in Seattle.
While Anisha tried swimming and ballet, they don’t compare to running track and field.
“When I run track, I don’t think of anything,” she said. “When I run, my mind clears and it’s relaxing.”
This will be her second time at the Junior Olympics, as she ran the 4x400 meter in 2012.
“It was fun, but it was sort of hard to run against other people and be competitive,” Anisha said, adding that her training, which consists of sprints and strengthening drills, has helped her take two seconds off of last year’s time.
Keshini describes her daughter as humble and shy at times with the ability to be goofy yet serious when needed.
And, of course, determined with a hard work ethic.
“She has an awesome work ethic to balance such a demanding schoolwork load as well as practice a couple of times a week, [which] was very challenging, but she amazed everyone and did well in school,” Keshini Greene said.
Keshini Greene recalls a time when some of Anisha’s competitors at a couple of the invitational events told her she was slow and that she wouldn’t beat them.
Her mother said she had a hard time dealing with this at first and wanted everyone to be nice and encouraging, but it got to the point that she didn’t want to compete.
But after some conversations with the team member, Anisha “was courageous enough to compete again and then be goofy with the kids and actually make friends with the same group of girls,” her mother said.
And with that dedication, Anisha has been able to achieve her best times of 13.90 seconds in the 100 m sprint, 28.17 seconds in the 200 m and 1.07 minute in the 400 m.
Throughout this past track season, Anisha competed in a series of meets, which determiend a matchup of the best times. From there, Anisha ran several heats in the semifinals. The top eight fastest teams were then chosen to compete in the regional championship, comprised of Oregon, Alaska and Idaho’s fastest qualifiers.
If she wins, Keshini Greene said the recognition and exposure would be the reward, as well as give her a chance to better her talents.
And very likely help her toward that Olympic athlete goal.
“I want to be a lawyer or a politician but I also want to be an Olympic gold medalist,” Anisha said, who will turn 12 in August and start seventh grade in September.
Keshini Greene said her drive to be great in whatever she does has been the most rewarding thing to see as a parent.
What fuels that drive? Anisha can’t pin-point it.
“I think I’ve just been like that my whole life,” she said.
Well, whatever it is, Anisha’s family is sure to support her all the way to the Olympics.
“We are very proud of Anisha,” Keshini Greene said. “She is such a blessing to our family.”