DOWNEY – Speed, strength, focus, resiliency, are just a few of the many characteristics that define a runner. However, it takes a lot of practice and patience for an athlete to develop these traits in order to be a successful runner. Meet Laite Saleapaga, Downey resident and track athlete from Warren High School.
Saleapaga has been in track for two years now, and competes in the 100m, 200m, as well as the 400m race for his team. Noticing his talent and great speed, he joined track to fulfill his long time passion for this sport.
“I love running and staying fit, and the people you meet while competing are great,” he says. Tthe most difficult thing about the sport, he says, is that “only pure skill and heart will help you win a race.”
He says that when preparing for a track meet, his team trains vigorously, and develops a clear mindset before the race, while developing the mentality that they must push themselves to the limit. This attitude and determination is what garnered multiple wins and a league title for the Warren High boys track team.
Losses do happen, and Saleapaga said that it’s important that “the team has lots of training in the area that you didn’t do so well in from the last meet.” He suffered from injuries last year, which prevented him from competing last season.
In order to regain his strength and come back from the injury, he trained as much as he could, and participated when he was able to.
Being a runner isn’t an easy feat. One must train religiously. In the 100m and the 200m events, once the trigger is pulled, runners must bolt to the finish line. To have that kind of resiliency is no easy task. However, for the 400m races, a runner must increase his acceleration throughout the race, and be mindful not to run too fast in the beginning of the race to avoid “hitting the wall,” meaning to avoid getting winded.
Saleapaga says that his coach has “pushed us to be the best athletes we can be. He will push us to our limits while making sure we stay healthy.” He says that he’s learned that in an intense sport like track, “you can’t be too prideful because there can always be someone to put you in your place.”
He goes on to say that “an athlete needs to like the sport, and needs to have a good mindset when being pushed to the limit.”
He says his family has supported him in track by ensuring that he stay healthy, fit, and most importantly, injury free.
Marisa Vidal is a junior at Warren High School studying journalism.
Published: Feb. 26, 2015 - Volume 13 - Issue 46