Raevyn Rogers - Youth Athlete Spotlight
She stood proud with her teammates on the top of the medal stand. Winning gold was her dream. Her cheeks hurt from continuous smiling. Her eyes searched fervently to find her mom to share the experience.
Raevyn Rogers won gold in the Swedish medley relay at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Donestk, Ukraine. Rogers ran the third leg of 300m in the event. The Swedish medley relay is a unique event and specific to the World Youth Championships, but there were doubts about her running.
A couple of days before the event, the team sat down to discuss all the options for the relay. Rogers was scheduled to run in the 800m final prior to medley relay. Rogers’ 800m race provided her less than 30 minutes to prepare. They were unsure if she could recover.
Rogers pushed for a spot on the team. She explained with confidence to her coaches that she trained for these situations. They should not worry about her tiring.
“I’ve been trained for those situations,” Rogers said. “I can recover quickly because I’ve practiced those scenarios with my summer track club. I like being in those situations where I have to push myself to the limits.”
Rogers arrived at main stadium of Regional Sport Complex Olimpiyskiy with her mind focused on the task of the day: winning gold twice. The words of her coaches “let’s close out this meet with our national anthem” echoed in her head.
She was ready.
From the moment the gun sounded in the 800m final, Rogers gave all she had. She crossed the finish line third to win bronze. The gold and silver medalist poised for pictures with their countries, but Rogers could not.
“As soon as I crossed the finish line I was tired, but I really wanted to win,” Rogers said. “Some lactic acid had built up in my hamstring, so my mom had to quickly massage it out so I could be ready to compete in the next race.”
She scurried across the track to find a seat and hydrate. There was no time. She had just enough time to catch her breath and find her teammates to report to check-in for the relay.
Her breathing returned to normal as she took her starting position. She received the baton and did what she always does. Team USA was in the lead when she started her leg and she ensured they maintained it.
When she saw the Olivia Baker cross the finish line first, the smiles started and did not stop.
Standing on the medal stand was surreal. She gazed out at the crowd staring back at her. It was real. They were standing, cheering and applauding for her and her teammates.
As soon as the ribbon touched her neck, she grabbed the medal. She always wondered what it would feel like. First, the right hand, then the left, now both. She even bit, to make sure it was not chocolate.
“There is actually a picture of me doing biting it,” Rogers said. “The gold medal wasn’t as heavy as initially anticipated, but in the same breath it wasn’t exactly light. In the Ukraine the flag is on the ribbon part, so it was really a great moment.”
The team stood with their medals while photographers snapped as many shots as they would allow. Somehow finding the energy, she jogged around the track with her teammates for a victory lap.
“It was really like we were the professional athletes,” Rogers said. “I felt like I was Allyson Felix. Holding the USA flag around my neck was a special moment.”
She finally found her mom. They shared a visceral embrace. Neither knows how long it lasted, but both knew they never wanted it to end.