Shakima Wimbley shines in Pan American Games

Junior track star Shakima Wimbley races past the competition. Courtesy
Junior track star Shakima Wimbley races past the competition. Courtesy

Despite being named ACC Freshman of the Year for both indoor and outdoor track in 2014, Shakima Wimbley entered races last season with a puzzling lack of self-confidence.

Wimbley set Miami records in the indoor 200m and 400m races and was named a second team All American for indoor track last year, yet she still didn’t view herself as one of the best runners in the country.

That won’t be the case this year for the star junior runner thanks to her sensational performance in the 2015 Pan American Games held in Toronto last month.

“Sometimes I don’t go in with as much confidence as I should, and now that I ran on this level, it’s like there’s nothing left,” Wimbley said over the phone last Friday. “Just go after it. You’re just as good as everybody else.”

Wimbley came in second place in the 400m race with a time of 51.36 seconds, just getting edged out by fellow American runner Kendall Baisden, who clocked in at 51.27 seconds. Wimbley looked poised for a disappointing finish around fifth or sixth place with 80 meters to go, but thundered down the track the last leg of the race to earn herself a silver medal.

Two days after winning the silver, Wimbley ran the third leg of the 4×400 women’s relay for the American team and added another medal to her collection. This time, it was gold.

“Winning a gold medal is always something special,” Wimbley said during the phone call. “To know that I’m out there and the best athlete at the event, along with my teammates, it’s great.”

Wimbley keeps the medals in a display case inside her room. They serve as reminders that she is one of the elite runners in the country and motivate her to accomplish her ultimate goal.

“[The Pan American Games] showed me that I can be the best,” Wimbley said. “I just have to believe in myself, stay consistent and go after it. My ultimate goal of the year will be to make the Olympic team. That would be a dream come true.”

As long as Wimbley remains confident in herself, she has a real shot at making the 2016 Olympic squad. That should be easy, since Wimbley has two shining symbols of her ability sitting in a display case at all times.