‘Doing what I love’Published 8:02pm Saturday, June 1, 2013
Rashid excels in NRHS track and field
Nansemond River High School sophomore Zakiya Rashid got an early start competing in track and field throwing events, and her drive has carried her to the upper echelons in the state.
Last weekend in the Group AAA Eastern Region outdoor championships, she left her former discus record in the dust with a winning mark of 34’10”, earning a nomination and landslide win in the Player of the Week poll.
Rashid had just come off a disappointing shot put finish moments before. She tried to explain how she recovered to beat her personal record in the discus by six feet.
“I was just throwing,” she said. “I was just doing what I love.”
Over time, she said, she has built up a mental strategy to deal with pressure, explaining that “I try to just let it go, relax and do what I know that I can do.”
Rashid points to her older sister, Malika Rashid, as her inspiration for getting into track and field. Zakiya started competing for the Norfolk Real Deal Track Club a couple of years before joining the Nansemond River team as a freshman. She cites this as a reason for her success as an underclassman.
“Starting earlier, having thrown more years than a lot of the girls, I think that’s what helped me, and then coming into high school, and still wanting to be the best,” she said.
Nansemond River coach Justin Byron has witnessed an important development in Rashid, noting that she used to struggle with laziness and would not finish workouts. But Rashid has eliminated those issues now.
“She’ll still complain, but she gets it done, whereas, I met her going into her ninth grade year, and I honestly thought track wasn’t for her,” he said. “I said, ‘She’s not going to last.’ But again, she’s a great kid, and she now has this drive where she really, really wants to do great.”
Byron said Rashid has always been strong, but now she’s even stronger and leaner. While she receives outside coaching to help with technique and mechanics, Byron focuses on helping her become a better athlete at Nansemond River and the Five Star Track Club.
“I think we were able to really harness her strength and her power, to be able to use it towards her sport,” he said.
Rashid was a cheerleader as a freshman and played soccer in eighth grade, but she dropped those activities to focus solely on track and field. She said it is her favorite sport, because “it’s the sport that I’m the best at.”
Malika Rashid anticipates success will continue to come to her younger sister in greater proportion.
“In the future, I can see her winning a state championship, and I can’t wait see that for her, because I’m very proud of her,” she said.
Zakiya describes winning as her biggest motivation and has ambitions to continue competing beyond high school.
“I want to do it in college, and I definitely want to go to the Olympics,” she said.
As if her throwing prowess was not impressive enough, Byron teased another element of Rashid’s abilities that may soon come to light.
“Don’t be surprised if you see Zakiya running the 4×100 next year,” he said. “Zakiya is on track to be one of our top sprinters next year, as well.”