July 31, 2014For 9-year-old Grosse Pointer Olivia Thomas, running is second nature, but it was not her initial calling.
For the past two years, she has been playing soccer for a local travel team. Between playing forward, midfield and sweeper for her team, it became clear to Thomas's father, Terrence, that his daughter could run, and rather quickly.
"Parents had come up to us during games and said to us, 'Wow she is really fast,' and at first we never noticed because that is just who Olivia is," Terrence said.
After realizing her potential for track, Thomas's mom and dad encouraged her to join a track team out in Southfield when she was only 8-years-old.
Despite only starting competitive running a year ago, Thomas is flourishing within the sport.
She already won the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes at the district competition and won silver in the 400-meter dash at the regional competition.
At the end of the month, Thomas and her father traveled to Des Moines, Iowa, to participate in the AAU Junior Olympic Track and Field competition.
Thousands of children from across the country competed in more than 20 different sports.
Thomas represented the Michigan Mustangs track and field team in three events, the 100, 200 and 400 dash because, "it's not too long, but it's not too short either."
Even though she is only 9, the big stage and bright lights doesn't faze Thomas in the slightest. She comes off as cool, calm and collected.
However, the kid within her does finally come out when she admits she's equally as excited for the 12-hour car ride through the Great Plains.
"I get to watch the entire Harry Potter series on DVD," Thomas beams.
As for her motivation to compete at such a high level at such a young age, both Thomas and her dad agree, "the key is she has a lot of fun doing it. It's an added bonus that she happens to be so good at it, as well."