FRIDAY, JULY 27: When your mom is a Bermuda Carifta legend, it might be expected that track would be a natural. But for Arantxa King, soccer was her first love. It wasn’t until she reached high school that her track pedigree showed through. King, a former youth world champion in the triple jump, now excels in the long jump, where she hopes to reach the finals in her first Olympic Games.
How old were you when you started track and field and what got you involved in the sport?
I was 12. I mainly did summer track — just a few youth meets here and there. Soccer was my main love at that time. I started soccer at a young age and excelled. I was on club teams and by nine years old and made the Massachusetts State teams. I always knew I was pretty fast, but it wasn’t until freshman year in high school when I started to take track more seriously because soccer was in the off-season. My track career pretty much took off from there, and eventually it replaced soccer.
How much of an influence has your mom (Branwen Smith King) been on you to compete?
My whole family has been a great influence in my track career. I probably would not have done track if my sister wasn’t already doing it and succeeding in it in high school (and I was convinced that I was faster than her). My father truly instilled dedication in me as he was my soccer coach for most of my life. He was fairly strict with my training in soccer and I was able to use those skills in track.
Because my mother was a coach and former track athlete, naturally, she had a direct impact on my high school career. She introduced me into the sport at an early age and was my coach/manager/mom and played all those roles impeccably, which is hard to come by these days.
What do you enjoy about the sport?
I enjoy the fact that it’s an individual sport at its core; but success is built on the support of others. I like the control I have in it because it’s individual — me versus the tape measure. Therefore, in track you truly behold your own destiny. At the same time, track is a very social sport. I have made friends all across the world and practice and performance is directly related to my coach and training partners. I enjoy both of these aspects.
When did you believe or what made you think you might be good enough to be an Olympian some day?
I never looked at the Olympics being the end goal, I looked at being great at what I do and being successful as my end goal. So when I opened up my eyes and saw that the Olympics and being successful in the sport coincide, naturally, I started to realize how the Olympics was truly attainable.
Which fellow Bermudian Olympian are you looking forward to hanging out with and why?
It’s probably rare that in all of the events in track and field, my fellow track teammate, Tyrone Smith, competes in my same discipline. Therefore, its always fun hanging out with Tyrone especially because us “field eventers” pride ourselves on being different from those runner people. Because Tyrone is a professional athlete, and I’m just entering that territory, it’s interesting learning about his experiences and listening to his advice.
Besides the competition, what are you most looking forward to about the Olympics?
Learning about the people of our world in the best classroom in the world, the Olympic Village.
What’s your goal for placement at the Olympics and why?
My ideal goal is to make the Olympic finals in the Long Jump. Even though, I would have to jump a pretty big PR (personal record), I know I have the capacity to do it and I’ve been waiting for a breakthrough jump all season.
It’s all a matter of the right timing and confidence; and I’m hoping on that day everything comes together.Age: 22
Olympics: Competed in Beijing.
Did you know? She is one of three athletes named Arantxa at these games and graduated with a degree in political science from Stanford.
The qualifying round for the long jump is Tuesday, August 7 at 3:05pm (Bermuda Time) with the final slated for Wednesday, August 8, at 4:05pm.