Diasporian News of 2014-07-09

Spotlight: High school track star Rasheedah Shardow from Ghana

Local track fans came away with two things when they watched Hen Hud senior Rasheedah Shardow perform this season.

First, they knew they were watching one of the area’s truly superior hurdlers. Second, they were watching the only track athlete who ran wearing all her normal clothes rather than stripping down to the scant, traditional short-pants-and-shirt for both comfort and speed.

“She competes fully covered,” said Marsha Bailey, the veteran Sailors coach, “even wearing a scarf.”

Shardow is a devout Muslim, as are her Ghana-born parents. It is their belief that women should not be seen scantily-clad in public.

“It could be prohibiting her from running her fastest time,” said Bailey, reflecting the view of many.

But not the view of the talented 5-5 athlete.

“People just wonder how I feel it through the heat,” Shardow said. “To me, it’s just another part of my competing.”

And compete she does, with extraordinary success. Besides being undefeated in dual meets in both the 100- and 400-meter hurdles outdoors, she capped her fourth and final high school track season by sweeping the hurdles at the Eastern States meet with standout times: 15.4 seconds in the 100 and l:05.88 in the 400.

She was also county and Section B champ in the 400 hurdles and fell one place short of advancing to state hurdles competition outdoors after doing so indoors. Did we mention she’s a strong enough sprinter to pick up wins even without hurdles on the track?

“In our league meet she had four firsts,” Bailey informs: “Both hurdles, the 100 and as part of the 4 by 400 relay.”

“You know, in my 40 years of coaching I’ve never had a better all-around hurdler.”

Shardow didn’t stand out for other things on the track. “We think of her as very quiet and reserved,” said the coach. “Except when she’s in a relay; then she’s yelling for her teammates, exhorting them to go faster and cheering them on. It’s fun to watch. Everybody loves her.”

Indeed, record-setting javelinist Jack O’Brien was thrilled when informed Shardow had gotten her hurdles double at the Easterns while he was winning his event. “It’s something she really wanted,” he said happily.

And making it sweeter, her parents were there to watch her high school finale.

The young Shardow found the hurdles fun to watch, too. “I come from a track background,” she said. “My older brother and father were runners. “When I went out as a freshman, I thought the hurdles looked like a fun event. So I tried them, liked them and stuck with them.”

Bailey never questioned her full-dress approach. “We never had that discussion,” the coach said. “That’s how she comes to practice. That’s who she is.”

Who she is, is also a 17-year-old with a high-honour-roll status and a GPA of 93. She plans to be a paediatrician. “I’ve always enjoyed working with kids,” she said.

The next step next fall will be at SUNY-Binghamton. “I guess I’ll hurdle,” she said.

“Whatever she does, she’ll stand out,” said Bailey.

Stand out in a most positive way.

Source: Chuck Slater/ Townlink.com
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