Athlete of the Week: East Anchorage sprint star OlyivaJaelyn Mamae

Bettye Davis East High School's Olyvia Mamae has the fastest time in the state in four different events.
Published: May. 5, 2022 at 2:10 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - OlyviaJaelyn Mamae competes in four different events for the Bettye Davis East Anchorage Thunderbird track and field team and she has sprinted to the front of each event.

When the gun goes off and the runners push out of the blocks, it doesn’t take long to notice that OlyviaJaelyn Mamae is running a different race then her competitors. In the 300-meter hurdles in particular by the third hurdle many times she will be an entire 35 meters — or an entire hurdle — ahead of her competition.

“Honestly I think about a lot in the blocks and then as soon as the gun goes off it’s completely blank,” Mamae said. “It’s just run and then when I get halfway through the race I’m thinking about too much, like too many things race through my mind.”

For the junior in high school, the pandemic threw her track career for a loop before it even started when her freshman year was cancelled, and her love for the sport took a backseat.

“I’ve been running since seventh grade. For seventh and eighth grade it was more fun and then into freshmen year it was a competitive thing and then last year was pretty rough for me, COVID-wise,” Mamae said. “COVID kind of destroyed my mental health. I was just running for fun again, so this year was kind of my first super competitive year.”

Mamae said that although the pandemic was tough on her mental health, getting back into training and running seriously has helped her get back on track.

“It has helped me with my mental health a lot because it’s kind of a space that I can just get out, like running you don’t really think about anything but the finish line, so it’s kind of nice to be able to get away from any problems that I’m having outside of sports,” Mamae said.

The junior has bounced back in a big way, ranking first in the state in four different events, the 100-meter, 200-meter, 100-meter hurdles and the 300-meter hurdles. Her time in the 300m Hurdles she is a full three seconds faster than the second fastest girl in the state.

“I would say her biggest strength is her drive,” said East Anchorage track and field Coach Christina Shurtleff. “She really wants to be the best and so she’s doing everything she can to be the best.”

When Mamae is running, especially in hurdle events, while there are other competitors out there she really is racing against herself and pushing for a new PR.

Mamae said that her goal this season is to claim a state championship in at least three out of her four events, but don’t be surprised if she takes all four because once Mamae gets moving she is hard to stop.

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