Whatever the sport, the classic come-from-behind victory is a favorite among fans and athletes alike. It makes for great drama and captures the never-say-die spirit that’s part of what it means to be a true competitor. Of course, some develop that resilience at the hands of demanding, uncompromising coaches, but others are born with it. And I think it’s fair to say that 7-year-old Talaya Crawford of the Apollo Track Club in Omaha, Nebraska, is probably in the latter category.
Watch a young sprinter claim a fantastic come-from-behind win despite losing a shoe.
Talaya is the daughter of world-class professional boxer, Terence “Bud” Crawford, who’s had an astonishing career with a 38-0 record that includes 29 KOs. 34-year-old Terence has won multiple world titles in three different weight classes, and it seems that grit and determination are in the Crawford family DNA.
When his daughter joined the other competitors at the start line for the 200-meters at the Wings of Omaha Invitational at Northwest High School in Nebraska, she had her game face on. Her coaches say that she hates to lose, just like her dad. And tiny Talaya was ready to rumble. But no sooner had the starting pistol sounded than she suffered every sprinter’s worst nightmare……her shoe came off.
Given the embarrassment and disappointment, nobody would have blamed the youngster if she’d quit and walked off the track in tears. But Talaya is clearly made of sterner stuff.
After initially calling on race officials to stop the race, she quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen. So, she helped herself. After running back to grab her shoe, she hastily put it back on and set off on the chase. By now, she’d fallen yards behind her rivals, who were already rounding the bend, and the race looked like a lost cause. Just finishing would have been a victory at this stage as she surely had no reasonable hope of catching the pack, let alone winning. However, for the young sprinter, failure was not an option.
Showing incredible heart, Talaya began chasing down the other runners while her family and friends screamed encouragement from the bleachers.
In the history of track and field, there have been some stunning comebacks over the years. However, the one regarded by some as the greatest of all time occurred in the humble surroundings of the Irish Universities Track and Field Championships in 2016.
At the last changeover of the women’s 4 x 400 meters relay, University College Cork athlete, Phil Healey, was in 5th place, some 100 meters off the lead. But in one of the most unbelievable final legs ever captured on camera, the then 21-year-old not only caught the front-runners, which included a future Olympian, but passed everyone to cross the line in first place. Her stunning performance earned her team the title and made Healey the star of a viral video.
Well, now, the Irish runner’s iconic performance has competition from a 7-year-old, as Tayala made up the gap like an Olympic superstar and was still pulling away from the field when she crossed the finish line in front.
Naturally, her coaches were full of praise for Tayala. Though, as a natural competitor, she was more concerned with what she’d done wrong, failing to tie her shoelace properly, than what she’d done right. But the adults who witnessed her incredible feat realized it was something special, a life lesson to kids and grown-ups alike that transcended sport. Even her dad, who’s well used to digging deep in the boxing ring, wrote on Instagram that he’d learned something from his daughter’s resilience.
“I just can’t stop thinking about my daughter’s track meet,” said Terence “Bud” Crawford. “She just doesn’t have a clue how much she just motivated me. This is the definition of not giving up, heart and grit. She let it all hang out even when she was hit with adversity.”
Meanwhile, Marquis Thomas, the head coach of the Wings of Omaha track team, described Talaya as inspirational and was overjoyed by her display of “strength, guts, and will.”
“It’s just really good to see that type of will,” Thomas told the media. “Keep working hard, keep going and have a goal in mind. That girl’s goal was to be first, and she kept that goal.”