INDIANAPOLIS - Ajeé Wilson (Neptune, N.J.) has been named the 2011 Youth Athlete of the Year by USA Track & Field’s Youth Committee. Wilson will be honored on Saturday, December 3, at the Jesse Owens Awards and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in St. Louis, Mo.The event is held in conjunction with USA Track & Field’s 2011 Annual Meeting.
The highlight of Wilson’s year came in winning the girl’s 800 meters at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Lille, France. Wilson unleashed her kick with 200m remaining and separated herself from the field to win in 2:02.64. Wilson’s victory marked the first time Team USA medaled in the event at the Youth Championships.
Wilson’s championship win not only netted her a new personal best, but also rewrote the New Jersey scholastic record books. Wilson bettered Hall of Famer Joetta Clark’s previous record of 2:03.67 in both the semi-finals and finals.
After winning both the 800m (2:09.73) and 1600m (4:54.31) at the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Group Championships in her school’s division, Wilson missed out on the New Jersey Meet of Champions and other post-season meets due to a sprained ankle.
But the time off did nothing to hamper Wilson’s season as she came back to win the World Youth Track & Field Trials in 2:09.39 to punch her ticket to the France.
“At first I thought I had won the award just for my association,” Wilson said. “But when I learned it was the national award I was shocked. There were so many great athletes nominated - a lot of my teammates from the World Youth Championships in France.”
"She is a great talent, not only on the track, but also as a person," said USATF Youth Athletics Committee Chair Lionel Leach. "She is very personable and an outstanding athlete. We look forward to seeing her represent our country well in the future."
The Youth Athlete of the Year award was established in 2001 to recognize an outstanding performance by an athlete under the age of 19. A list of previous winners may be found here.