Ohio State track and field stars ready to shine in their Olympic moment
Five current and former Buckeyes will run, jump and throw for gold in Tokyo
For many Olympic athletes, the scenes and the setting of the summer games are iconic: the torch lighting at the opening ceremony, the anthems playing as medals are adorned or the bombastic notes from “Olympic Fanfare and Theme.”
For Adelaide Aquilla, one of 26 Ohio State Buckeyes to qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics, being a part of one of those moments wasn’t something she dreamed about – until very recently.
“I would watch [Olympic] basketball games when they would come on, but I never really watched the track growing up,” she said. “I never really was super into it until my sophomore year of high school. That’s when I really started getting into the sport and growing to love it.”
Aquilla, a fourth-year communications and hospitality management major, won 2021 NCAA indoor and outdoor track and field championships in in the shot put, but did not expect to be competing for a medal in Tokyo this year.
“At the beginning of the year, I wrote down that I wanted to be in the top five at the Olympic trials because I already knew I had the standard,” she said. “But then throughout the course of this year, I started picking up the pieces technically, so I adjusted my goal and said, ‘I want to make team.’”
A year of continuous improvement led to a third-place finish at the U.S. track and field Olympic trials.
Aquilla is one of five members of the Ohio State men’s and women’s track and field program, including three current members of the team, who will take part in the Tokyo Olympics. The summer games officially begin tomorrow, July 23, with the opening ceremony taking place at 8 p.m. local time in Japan, which is 7 a.m. in Columbus.
Anavia Battle, a fourth-year human development and family sciences major, said she is excited to join her Buckeye teammates in the Olympic stadium next week. Qualifying for the games wasn’t the biggest surprise during trials: That was reserved for finishing the 200 meters in 21.95 seconds, a personal best.
“I think that actually shocked me more than making the team, which is crazy, but finally breaking a 22 is good,” she said.
Battle, like Aquilla, is a late bloomer to her sport. She said she really started taking running seriously as a freshman in high school.
“I was just doing it to be a part of something, but once I realized the gift that I had and how good I am at this sport, I started to take it seriously. Because I like winning,” Battle said.
Battle’s Buckeye teammate, Eric Harrison, has dual citizenship and will trade his scarlet and gray in for the red, black and white of Trinidad and Tobago. A fourth-year communications major, Harrison said he wants to make sure that his first trip to Tokyo is not a lost experience as he prepares for the 4x100 relay.
“I definitely want to enjoy myself, to enjoy the experience, and I don’t want to overlook things,” he said. “I think that’s something that athletes can do a lot. They can get caught up into their head space to the point where they completely missed the experience. One thing that I’m definitely focused on is to make sure I enjoy myself. I train every day so that there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be able to perform.”
Harrison, Battle and Aquilla are joined by Maggie Barrie, a 2018 graduate who runs in the 400 meters for Sierra Leone, and Christina Clemons, a 2021 graduate who will compete in the 100 hurdles for the USA. The Buckeye connection brings a sense of pride and camaraderie that unites these athletes regardless of flag.
“I love my teammates,” Battle said. “It’s amazing to see all of the Buckeyes on this Olympic team.”
Ohio State’s track and field contingent is part of a record-high representation of Ohio State student-athletes at the Olympics: 26 current, former or incoming student-athletes are set to compete for their respective countries. Supporters can learn more and follow their progress at Buckeyes in Tokyo.