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From Working At McDonald’s To Competing At The Olympics, This US Track Youngster is Living American Dream


US Copyright Team (L); @q_burks/ Instagram (R)

Setting goals and achieving them is the path that has transformed an Olympic contender from a 17-year-old with a concert under the “golden arches” to a world-class athlete trying to take home a gold medal at the Tokyo Games.

Quanesha Burks was raised by her grandparents. As a teenager, he worked long hours at McDonald’s, earning what he could to help support his family. Still, she says she was happy to work every day because she saw her job as an investment in a bigger game plan that included attending college.

From the beginning, Burks excelled in sports. In high school, he realized that his athletic prowess could be the ticket to a college scholarship. Initially, his sport choice was a pitch between basketball and track, but once he ranked third at the 2012 USATF National Youth Olympic Games, his course was ready.

After researching the requirements for a full trip, Burks set his goals on paper and met them. By the time he graduated from Hartselle High School, he had earned 11 state racing degrees and a scholarship to the University of Alabama.

With an impressive NCAA indoor long jump title in 2015 followed by an outdoor victory in 2016, Burks racked up All-America Honors, but even with his many accomplishments, his road to the Olympics has had its own setbacks. .

In 2018, Burks finished in a disappointing fourth place at the World Indoor Athletics Championships. The following year, her beloved grandfather passed away a week before the US outdoor athletics championships – understandably, her performance suffered.

By the time 2020 rolled around, Burks was back on a winning pace. Then the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out most sporting events, leaving her and other hopeful athletes in limbo. She continued training until a bone injury left her on the sidelines for almost three months.

RELATED: Blind teenager swims for gold with a guide dog who helps her prepare for the Tokyo Paralympic Games

“I felt like all the odds were against me,” Burks said. Illustrated Sports. “At one point, my coach told me, ‘I don’t know if you’re going to be able to physically go to the tryouts.’ Doctors did not know if I would go back in time … I was faced with so many things, but I kept going back to when I worked at McDonald’s. I had my goals set and I knew I could achieve it. “

Although forced to refrain from her usual rigorous activities, Burks remained determined to achieve her Olympic dreams. To keep her spirits up, she recorded a series of positive affirmations and sent them to her. TikTok page.

During tryouts at the Tokyo Olympics, her tenacity paid off. At age 25, with a personal best in the long jump of 6.96 meters, Burks took third place overall, securing his spot on Team USA’s roster.

“It’s a blessing to be like someone from my hometown in a small community, really just representing myself, but Hartselle, the University of Alabama and the state of Alabama,” Burks said. CBS News-19. “Knowing that I am representing us in Tokyo is just a blessing, it is an honor and I am very proud of the other Olympians.”

While Quanesha Burks is well aware that she may not be high-profile like some of her teammates, she reasons that it’s because she’s taken a different path to get where she is, and that’s fine with her.

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“I didn’t have everything ready for me. He didn’t have all eyes on me. I feel like I’m overlooked to this day. It’s okay, ”he told Sports Illustrated. “I just know that it all starts with your inner confidence. Everything that I have become is due to my way of thinking and my determination … It has been a journey and it all started with a girl who worked at McDonald’s and here I am. “

While marking the cover of a Wheaties box would be nice, even if he doesn’t win a medal in Tokyo, Burks hopes it’s his legacy of hard work and determination that will ultimately inspire other up-and-coming Olympians who work out on a daily basis. I work until they can live the dream.

And who needs a “special sauce” when you have it?

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