Q&A WITH… ALIYAH ABRAMS

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Country: Guyana

Profession: Athlete – 400m          

Career highlights:

  • 2x Olympian
  • 2022 World Indoor Champs finalist – 5th
  • 2022 World Championships team
  • 2022 Commonwealth Games team
  • 2021 National Champion

Over the two Olympic Games you have competed in, what has been your favourite Olympic moment?

One of my favourite Olympic moments happened at the 2016 Rio Olympics. I was sitting in the crowd and watching the men’s 400m final. Being in the stadium and seeing Wayde van Niekerk break the 400m world record was insane. It was like no other experience because you are part of history – the energy and seeing how everybody reacted, that was probably one of the best moments.

When you come off that last bend in the 400m, what is going through your mind?

I have to always remind myself to relax because at that moment you feel everything that you did in the first 300m. It hurts, you start tightening up and the lactic is a lot, so I remind myself to just relax because I tend to raise my shoulders and get a little tense trying to finish. I just, you know, tell myself to put my feet down so I can get to the finish line as fast as I can.

We read that you majored in public health, what influenced this study choice?

I did my undergrad in public health, and I did a program on physical activity in public health. The reason I’m in public health is simply because I like the fact that I’m relatively close to the medical field but not like super hands-on. My mom is a nurse and of course that is a big influence, she would come home with all types of horror stories (and some good stories too). I knew that I wanted to be in the health field because of her; she’s so helpful, I want to follow in those footsteps, and I like to help people. Health is so important to me and I’m always trying to find the healthiest way to do things that work best for my body and I want to be able to help people do the same and achieve their health goals. I did not want to be hands on like my mom, I wanted to be more in the background and community based. I choose physical activity in public health specifically because I’ve been physically active my whole life and I know exercise and staying active is such a great benefit to health. I just thought of marrying my physical activity background with my public health and it made sense to pursue that.

Your sister is also an Olympic athlete, what was it like growing up in a family of athletes?

My family and I have always been active. My parents were always in the gym, working out or running. My older brother was the first to start in track, I joined probably two months after he started, and it was so much fun. He was not the biggest fan of the sport, and was more into basketball. But I stuck to track and then later on my sister joined. We were always pretty active as a family and growing up in that environment encourages you to stay active, encourages you to reap the benefits of being a part of a sport, and teaches you so much discipline and a lot about yourself.  So, it was very helpful to see my family and everybody being in sports.

What (if any) superstitions do you have when you race?

I don’t have any specific superstitions when I race, but I do get this feeling during my warmup and my final push outs if my body is ready and so I just listen to that. Of course, I don’t think too much about it because that really could throw you off. I kind of just know when my body is ready to go and when I get the feeling I know I’m ready to go hard. So, I don’t know if that superstition or not!

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