Athlete of the Week: Perez on track for a bright future

nandiperez-medalsNandi Perez is a two-time Junior Olympic champion, holds three Myrtle Beach Track & Field Club records, and has more medals than places to hang them. Oh, and she’s just getting started.

“You wouldn’t believe how many medals I have,” said Perez, 12, who added the title of Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week to her growing list of accomplishments. “I have them hanging on my lamp and stuffed in my drawer, everywhere.”

Her parents might need to build a trophy case for the up-and-coming runner, especially since they helped her get started. Nandi bugged her father for months to let her go running with him but Rico, a noted distance runner himself, was hesitant to let the then 7-year-old tag along. Turns out his daughter was following in his footsteps in more ways than one.

“He runs like 5 miles, so he didn’t want to have to stop in the middle of his run for her,” recalled mother, Ody Perez. “When they got home, he said, ‘That girls can run.’ He only had to stop once and she kept up with him the whole way. She’s been running ever since.”

Like her dad, Nandi prefers distance events, although she also owns the club record for the mid-range 800 meters. But she won gold medals in the Junior Olympics Regionals in Rock Hill earlier this month to earn a spot in the nationals. Her parents feel she’s too young to make the long trip to Texas, especially since she has many years of championship running ahead of her.

Nandi is the 2014 SC Jr Olympic Champion in the 1500m and 3000m and currently owns Myrtle Beach Track Club records in both as well as the 800m in 2013 as a 10 yr old (5:30, 12:26 and 2:42 respectively), and is the current record holder in the 800m (2:40), 1500m (5:22), and 3000m (11:40) in the 11-12 year old age division.

“Having coached athletes at all levels of competition up to the World and Olympic championships, at the Junior Olympic level Nandi has been one of the most multi-dimensionally rewarding athletes to coach the passed three years,” said MBT&F coach Clarence Richardson.

“She’s an inspiration to club athletes junior and senior to her age and as well as team coaches and athletes within and outside the Myrtle Beach Track Club. She has a very long and promising future as an athlete and student of the sport as well as the classroom.”

Nandi, an A student as well as an champion runner, moves up to seventh grade this fall and can compete with the Carolina Forest High cross country, track and field teams. True to her long-distance nature, she’s most looking forward to running cross country for the Lady Panthers.

“I’m a little nervous but I’m really excited about running cross country,” she said. “When I was younger, I didn’t know how to pace myself. I would slow down and speed up. But now I know how to keep a pace and that’s really helped (my times).”

Whatever events she takes on in the future, she is already on pace for a successful future in the sport.

 

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