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Jakobé Ford wins USATF Youth Athlete of the Year; Sabra Harvey takes Masters honors


INDIANAPOLIS — USATF Hershey Junior Olympic triple gold medalist Jakobé Ford (Spokane, Washington) has been named the 2017 USATF Youth Athlete of the Year, while quadruple national road champion Sabra Harvey (Houston, Texas) has been recognized as USATF Masters Athlete of the Year, USATF announced Tuesday. Selections were made by the USATF Youth and Masters LDR committees, respectively.


Ford and Harvey will be honored Saturday, December 2, at the Jesse Owens Awards Banquet in Columbus, Ohio. The event is held in conjunction with USATF’s Annual Meeting. Tickets are available online now, and a limited number will be available on-site beginning Wednesday, November 29, at the Hyatt Regency.


“USATF’s Youth events have the largest participation of any of our programs, and our Masters athletes capture the groundswell of competitive fitness for people over 40,” USATF CEO Max Siegel said. “Jakobé and Sabra embody the fact that athletes can achieve excellence at any stage of life, and USATF is proud to offer robust competitive opportunities for athletes of all ages.”


Competing for the Spokane Speed Academy of USATF’s Inland Northwest Association, Ford won an historic jumps triple crown at the USATF Hershey National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships in Lawrence, Kansas. Competing in the 17-18-year-old age group, he took top honors in the long jump with a 7.47m/24-6.25, added a gold in the triple jump with a mark of 15.74m/51-7.75, and won the high jump with a clearance of 2.17m/7-1.5 clearance. He became the first athlete since 1967 to win the jumps triple at USATF Junior Olympics.


"I'm excited to win this award and grateful for this recognition," Ford said. "I've had an incredible year, and I'd like to thank USATF, my family and my coaches helping me achieve success in a sport I love."


Harvey was a force on the roads, winning overall age-graded titles at the USATF Masters mile, 5K, 10K and 15K championship races. Harvey, 68, won her first title at the 10K on April 30 in Dedham, Massachusetts, grading out at 103.56% with her time of 42:05. In August, she won the mile road title in Flint, Michigan, in 6:07, grading out at 105.63%. At the 5K championships in October in Syracuse, New York, Harvey’s 20:44 graded out at 99.07%, and she capped off her year in late October with a 67:24 at the 15K in Tulsa, Oklahoma, grading out at 98.69%. On the track, Harvey won 65-69 age group golds in the 800, 1500 and 5,000 at the USATF Masters Championships in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and set a W65 world record 11:47.30 in the 3,000 meters in June at the Portland Track Festival.


Harvey began running at age 50 and continues to inspire and dominate.  In the spring of 2017, she ran two sub-20 5Ks, setting world bests with times of 19:56 and 19:50.


“I set high goals for myself as a Masters athlete and am thrilled to have achieved so much this year,” Harvey said. “I’m humbled to receive the USATF Masters Athlete of the Year award and grateful for the support of the USATF Masters LDR Committee, as well as my former coach and mentor, Karen Boler.”


Harvey’s success came even as she coped with her home being flooded in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey on August 28. She and her family were forced to evacuate and are planning to rebuild.


“You just have to move forward, one day at a time, and stay positive. I had high expectations for myself this year, and I had no idea that something would happen. It’s character building. You have to be creative in order to maintain some type of schedule for your training but you find ways to adapt and get where you need.”


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