Meet Khalifa St. Fort, First U.S. High Schooler To Medal At Senior Worlds

The best "What I Did Over My Summer Vacation" essay at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Florida probably comes from Khalifa St. Fort. The senior represented Trinidad and Tobago in three separate international track and field championships over the summer break, highlighted by a bronze medal in the 4x100m at the senior level IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China. The 17-year-old is the youngest female sprinter in history to medal at a senior-level world championship and the first U.S.-based high schooler to do so. We caught up with the track star about adjusting to different time zones, competing against the pros and her plan for the fall. Oh, yeah, and she's a fan of the Quan.

Khalifa By The Numbers

CHAMPIONSHIP LOCALE EVENT MEDAL
Pan-American Juniors Edmonton, Canada 100m Gold
IAAF World Youth Cali, Colombia 100m Silver
IAAF World Seniors Beijing, China 4x100m Relay Bronze
EVENT PR
100m 11.19
200M 23.55 (+2.0)


MileSplit: You raced in three different international track events ­ the World Youth Championships, Pan­American Junior Championships and IAAF World Championships (senior level). What were the differences between each event and how did each prepare you for the next one?

Khalifa: The differences were at the Pan­American Jrs.and World Youth I was competing with athletes close to my age while at the World Championships I competed against all of my idols and all the professional athletes I look up to.

What was the biggest highlight of the summer for you?

The highlight of my summer was competing in the 4x100 for Trinidad & Tobago at the IAAF World Championships and receiving Bronze.

Describe the difference between the IAAF Worlds on the Youth and Senior levels. Did Youths prepare you for the senior Worlds?

Yes, World Youth did prepare me for the World Championships, the only difference was the age of the competitors and of course it was one of the biggest stages I had ever performed on.

How does it feel to be the youngest female sprint medalist in the history of Worlds?

It feels amazing and it is a humbling experience. I am happy I was able to contribute to the Trinidad & Tobago team.

How did it feel to break the Trinidad and Tobago national record?

It was an amazing experience I had so much fun. It was not unexpected but it was great to have competed with such a great group of athletes.

How much do you identify with Trinidad and Tobago? Do you see yourself trying out for the US national team one day?

I identify with the Trinidad and Tobago team extremely well and I do not see myself trying out for a US team. I love Trinidad and Tobago as well as my teammates.

What were the biggest differences in your everyday routine in Colombia and China as compared to the United States?

The biggest differences were not seeing my parents everyday and constantly being on the go.

What was the biggest surprise about Cali, Colombia/Edmonton, Canada/Beijing,China? Which city was your favorite?

My favorite was Beijing, China. I had amazing chemistry with my teammates and stayed in a hotel with all my idols.

What was the biggest challenge while competing abroad?

The biggest challenge was adjusting to the sleep schedules.

How was your first day of school? Can you describe your travel schedule back to the United States? Did you get any sleep?!

My first day of school was great. I landed 11:45 pm and had school the next morning and I surprisingly slept well. The traveling was not too bad because I slept through most of it.

What is the biggest adjustment for you as you return to school and the normal routine?

The biggest adjustment would have to be the sleeping. I am excited to be back at school and going back to my normal routine.

Where does your training go from here? Are you on a break?

Yes, as of now I am on a break and I will not resume training for a while. My coach believes in having the adequate amount of rest in order for me to progress next season.

You wrote that when you first began training with Ato, he said, 'you have to earn the right to run on the track' and you trained exclusively on the grass. What was the turnaround moment when you 'earned the right' to train on the track?

The turnaround moment was when my drills and form improved. When I fully accepted his philosophy, he decided, 'it is time for you to put it all together.'

What did that moment mean to you?

That moment meant a lot to me and I was very excited. Coach Ato made sure I understood that just because we moved to the track it did not mean my technique should change.

What are your thoughts on Candace Hill and her national record of 10.98 this year?

I think Candace Hill is a phenomenal athlete but an even better person. My encounters with her have always been positive and I was able to get to know her when we both attended the 2015 Nike Elite Camp.

You have already surpassed the Olympic standard for the 100m [11.32] with your PR of 11.19. Did you have any thoughts of competing at the senior level World Championships this summer? Why did you choose to compete at World Youth instead?

In Order for me to compete at the World Championships I had to run 11.33 or better. World Youth was always the plan and the World Championships was an added bonus.

Do you have any thoughts of turning professional before you graduate from high school?

I have not thought about it. My main focus is training next year for Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Trials, Rio 2016, as well as World Jrs.

How does competing against strictly HS competition compare to racing against and with professionals?

HS athletes as well as professional athletes are all great competitors but racing against the professionals is a great learning experience. I was able to observe how the professional eat, warm­up, and go about their daily lives.

What are your goals for your senior year?

My goals for my senior year are to gain a 5.0 GPA at least for one quarter, Run sub 11 in the 100 meters, sub 23 in the 200, and qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Fun Stuff!

The Quan or the Nae Nae? The Quan

Weirdest foreign food you tried this summer: I kept my diet the same

Best part of being a senior at St. Thomas Aquinas: Hopefully getting an opportunity to run for my school for one more year

What colleges are you looking at? UCLA,USC,Brown and Stanford

If you could have dinner with any 3 people, dead or alive, who would you choose and why? Flo­ Jo because she was a phenomenal athlete that I never got the chance to meet, Shelly­-Ann Fraser­Pryce because of her great personality and Usain Bolt because he is the fastest man in the world.

Favorite athlete (of any sport): Shelly­-Ann Fraser­-Pryce

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Johanna Gretschel can be reached at jojo@flosports.tv.

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