Saunders places second in IAAF

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Nansemond River High School 2012 graduate Sha’Keela Saunders performed well in the IAAF Diamond League meet recently.

Former Team WAR member and University of Kentucky Wildcat Sha’Keela Saunders participated in the IAAF Diamond League meet in Lausanne, Switzerland. She competed in the long jump, in which she placed second.

The IAAF Diamond League is an annual track and field series that invites elite athletes around the world to compete. It is a championship style league, meaning there are several diamond league meets. In the competitions, the athletes are expected to score points, allowing them to qualify for the final diamond league meet. After the points are tallied, the top eight athletes with the highest number of points advance.

Email newsletter signup

By placing second in the long jump, Saunders qualified for the diamond league finals. The Team WAR alumni is thankful for the opportunity.

Sha’Keela Saunders advanced to the IAAF Diamond League final after placing second in the long jump. Saunders was also the SEC long jump champion this year.

Saunders admits that she has not been pleased with her international performances lately. At best, she feels they have been average, and she was shocked to see she made the finals. However, she is happy to be back in the states so that she can continue to work hard and keep improving.

“I’m glad to be back so I can work and fix the mistakes I have been making,” Saunders said. “I know that when I return for the diamond league final, I will be well prepared and ready to compete.”

Saunders recently finished up her senior year at Kentucky, where she was the NCAA indoor champion in the long jump. She was the SEC indoor long jump champion and the SEC outdoor silver medalist. Her season-best jump 22’7.75″/6.90m placed her third on the all-time collegiate indoor list. As a result, she was a first team All-American in the indoor and outdoor long jump. She was a second team All-American in the outdoor 4x400m relay and indoor triple jump. First Team All-SEC indoors and Second Team All-SEC outdoors.

In 2016, she came close to claiming an Olympic berth when she placed fourth at the USA Olympic Trials. Placing fourth put her one spot off of qualifying for the team.

At Kentucky, she is the two-time SEC champion in the long jump, winning it this year and back in 2015. She is a 12-time All-American. Six of those are in long jump, four are in the triple jump, and two are in 4×400 relay team.

While at Nansemond River, she spent most of her senior year ranked No. 1 in the country in the long jump and also won a state championship in the triple jump.

The final for the IAAF Diamond League will be in London and will present the opportunity to compete for $50,000.