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Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Updated: August 12, 11:37 PM ET
No hurdle too high

By Tristine Johnson
Special to ESPNRISE.com

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Tristine Johnson
Tristine Johnson credits the guidance and training from her father, Olympic gold medal hurdler Allen Johnson, with helping her stay motivated.

DURHAM, N.C. -- Many people have asked me why I love track and field. They ask why I enjoy running in a huge, seemingly endless circle, and why I choose to spend my nights and weekends at the track instead of hanging out with friends or going to parties.

To me, track is not about the sacrifices that I have to make. It's about the results that I get that can only be obtained from hard work and perseverance.

Track has to be one of the most physically challenging things that I have ever done in my life. The workouts are intense, and somehow through all of the pain and fatigue you have to find a way to work through it in order to get to the next level; and even then, there are still higher, more challenging levels of competition.

Hurdling is especially difficult because it is a technical event. In order to get the motion right and be able to run fast, you have to always be aware of everything you're doing and every part of your body. For females, it's so much of a sprint race that you still have to be able to reach maximum speed without letting the hurdles slow you down too much.

There are other challenges that I have to overcome personally. It's difficult to see myself waking up at 6 on a summer morning to drive to another city for an early practice, knowing that my teammates live there and got at least an hour more sleep than I did, just so that I can get the coaching I need to propel myself forward.

It's not at all easy to stand at the starting line with my biggest competitor on my left and another fierce hurdler on my right and still have the courage to get down in those blocks and face them both head on.

It's heartbreaking for me to work hard at practice, especially when my teammates are slacking off, and still fall just short at a meet or not improve as much as I may have wanted.

But when I'm coming off of that last hurdle with every ounce of power that I have left in my body and charging across the finish line to turn around and see that I've run the fastest time I've ever run, that's the moment I live for.

It's the best experience in the world to feel like all of my hard work has finally paid off, even though I understand that there is still more work to be done. That feeling is the only thing that has kept me going and prevents me from giving up.

Somebody once told me that failure is not realizing how close you were to success before you gave up. I never understood that until I saw it for myself.

I would not be able to achieve what I have without the guidance and training that I've received from my father, Allen Johnson, and from my summer track coach, Donald Davis, as well as the love and support I get from my mother, Marcia Williamson, and my brother Bryce. Without them, I don't think that I would have made it as far as I have, and I know that they will be the driving force to keep me going.

Tristine Johnson is a senior track and field athlete at Charles E. Jordan High School in Durham, N.C.
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