As a young girl growing up in the Boston Edison Historic District on Detroit’s west side, Kyra Jefferson loved playing and running around with her cousins. She had no idea that hanging out with them would turn into a long, successful career, and a national championship.
Now, not only is she a University of Florida graduate, but on June 10th, Jefferson became the 200-meter Women’s NCAA Track Champion with a collegiate-record time of 22.02 seconds.
Now Jefferson is approaching the next stage of her life, while never forgetting those moments where it all began.
“A lot of my cousins ran track for Think Detroit Pal, so I decided to run track too,’’ Jefferson recalled. “I started when I was around 6 or 7 years old. I wasn’t that good, but I wanted to hang out with my cousins and friends in the summertime.’’
A diamond in the rough
Jefferson wasn’t the best track athlete because this was a new sport for her, according to her mother.
“Kyra didn’t start out as a track athlete, she started as a competitive swimmer,” said Michelle Watkins, Jefferson’s mother.
Although Jefferson’s cousins helped her find a new interest in track, she still swam for most of her high school years. The motivation came from her mother to pursue both sports.
“Kyra and I actually had an agreement,’’ said Watkins. “She was in the eighth grade and said to me, ‘mom, I think I could get better if I just focus on track a little more,’ so in the ninth grade we allowed her to do both track and swimming.”
Jefferson swam for Cass Technical High School until her junior year and ran track at the school all four years.
Track practice was routine for…