“Mommy, next year I’m going to win medals and break records,” 7-year-old Sky Arnold-Brown told her mother, Renate, last year at the AAU Junior Olympics in Houston.
Sky placed third in the 1,500-meter distance run for girls age 8 and under.
Renate Arnold-Brown, 47, says Sky “is mighty close” to making good on her promise.
During regional qualifiers in June, Sky, now 8, qualified to run in the 1,500-meter, 800-meter and 400-meter races at this year’s Junior Olympics through Wednesday, Aug. 5, in Detroit, Michigan.
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This is the third time Sky has qualified for the national competition, starting in 2015 when she was 6.
Back then, she was unable to go because of the costs involved. The same barrier stands now, which is why Arnold-Brown started a GoFundMe page for Sky.
“It would mean that all of her hard work and the sacrifices we have made were worth it if she can go up and beat her personal best,” Arnold-Brown said. “A medal around her neck … to me, it is a step to producing a functioning, productive, happy and confident young lady.”
Sky — who suddenly realized the Junior Olympics’ importance during her Miami Herald interview — wavered between fiery eagerness and nervousness. When asked how she felt, her candid reply was “bad.”
The retort was toward her recent practices, which have intensified for the Junior Olympics. Sky said the workouts are a part of what bonds her to the other Goulds Panther Track Club runners, though.
“What I like about track is that sometimes when we have parties, I feel like other people on my team are my family,” Sky said. “I say [they’re] cousins and stuff, but I know they’re not my family. It just feels like it to me.”
Sky joined the Goulds Panthers in 2015, coached by the club’s founder, David Jacque.
Jacque trains the group of roughly 25 kids nearly year-round, having produced several Junior Olympics competitors over the years.
“I make it my business not to have a lunch club, but a sizable amount of kids that I can really work with on a one-on-one basis. We try to take kids that [are] competitive, [who] know they want to go far,” he said. “When you get that mixture, you know you have somebody you can work with and develop for years to come.”
Jacque is confident that as the runners mature, they can take the (adult) Olympic stage. It’s a matter of patience and dedication he said, along with some understanding, too.
“[Sky’s] a wonderful kid. She has tremendous potential and the ability to go far, but she’s a kid,” Jacque said. “Like all kids, she has good days and bad days.”
Track and field has been a priority, but it’s by no means the only sport for Sky.
Between tennis, basketball and gymnastics, she showed interest in a plethora of activities, ready to tackle them all head on.
During her Herald interview, Sky noticed a few kids playing basketball nearby. After watching a missed shot, she was confident she could play better than them, even without a coach.
When her mom reminded her that she needed a coach for running, Sky grudgingly replied: “OK, you got me there. But they still suck at it.”