Daughter running in her father’s footsteps at track meet

The Northwest meet remains personal to Olympian Bershawn Jackson, especially now that his daughter Shawnti is running in it.

06/11/2012 12:00 AM

06/11/2012 12:46 AM

Shawnti Jackson wanted to show off her running face.

She gritted her teeth, grimaced and looked as mean as she could — which isn’t so mean considering she’s a cute little 7-year-old who weighs in at about 35 pounds.

“I’m going to be Batwoman,” she said between races at the Northwest Express Track and Field Classic.

That comment makes perfect sense since her father is Bershawn “Batman” Jackson, who has ranked in the top three in the world in the 400-meter hurdles for nine years and already owns an Olympic bronze medal and three world championships.

Sometimes, Bershawn trains against one particularly fierce challenger he can’t seem to beat — that would be his daughter. “We race against each other and we tie,” Shawnti said proudly.

Bershawn was watching Shawnti run Sunday on the final day of the Northwest Classic as his daughter took third in the 100 meters for the 7-8 division.

Asked whether she will eventually beat her dad, Shawnti said, “We don’t know yet.” Then there was a pause followed by, “But, yes.”

Does she know her father is a world-famous runner?

She responded with a great big smile. “Yes. I’m proud of him.”

Shawnti said she runs because “it’s fun.” Asked why else, silence followed. Shiny medals, maybe? Still no words but there was a great big “yes” nod of the head.

She said she hopes to get “faster and faster” and said her speed comes in handy “when we play tag at school.”

Bershawn, 28, smiles when he looks at his daughter. His training takes him away from the family much of the time.

“Sometimes, for months at a time,” he said. “It’s really tough. Being a professional athlete and spending time with the family is difficult. They’ll take me to the airport and you don’t want to leave them. It’s really difficult.”

He tries to compensate.

“I always phone,” he said of the days away from his wife Shannon and his other daughter, Shari, who is 2.

“We use Skype so we can talk and actually see each other. Even though I’m not there, I get to see them.”

Shawnti said, “I miss him and my sister really misses him. Let me imitate my sister — ‘I waaaant my Daddy.’ ”

Bershawn said, “People don’t understand how much time and how much work it takes to compete at this level.”

No matter his schedule or whether it is an Olympic year or not, Jackson finds time to be at the Northwest Classic meet for a good reason. “If not for this program right here and the Northwest Track Club,” he said, looking around, “I wouldn’t be the man I am today. I will always make time to come here.”

What that meant on this Sunday was running in New York on Saturday night and then hopping on a plane to Miami to attend the meet and give it his support.

Bershawn, a Miami Central High graduate, got the nickname Batman when he was 9 because “I had big ears and could fly.”

He said he’s happy with his preparations for the London Olympics, which start in less than seven weeks.

“I feel good,” he said. “I have to feel good because I’m close to making my dream a reality. My dream is a gold medal. Everybody’s dream should be gold.”

With the Olympic trials two weeks away, how confident is he of making the U.S. team? Apparently, extremely confident.

“We already have the reservations to London for the entire family,” he said.

Of course, there is a second part to Jackson’s gold medal dream.

“Hopefully, if I do win that gold,” he said, “my real dream is to have my two daughters run a victory lap with me.”

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