Intel Report 6/05/22 Reading I’m Alahna Sabbakhan and I’m on the track and field team at UVA Next Hello! My name is Gabby Baylog

I’m Alahna Sabbakhan and I’m on the track and field team at UVA

I was born in Richmond, Virginia but moved to Washington, DC at age 7. I started running track at age 6 after playing soccer for the YMCA in Richmond. I wasn’t very good at soccer but people watching noticed that my sister and I were fast so they told my parents that they should put us in track. From a young age I started doing very well in the short sprint events (100 meter dash and 200 meter dash). At 8 years old I moved up to the 400 meter dash and ended up doing very well. That became my main event up until 14 years old where I earned junior olympic all-american titles. In high school I began training for the 800 meter run after my parents and coaches saw potential in me. Being a mid-distance event, this was an adjustment to me but I was able to end my high school career qualifying for nationals in it three years in a row, emerging elite national champion and having one of the best high school girls 800 meter times in the country my senior year.

Starting as young as I did in this sport can either be an advantage or a disadvantage. The advantages are that you gain lots of experience early on that you can continue building on to help you perform your best. The disadvantages are that track and field can be mentally and physically exhausting at times so a love and passion for the sport is needed to push you through. Although I’ve been running for such a long time, I’ve never lost my love for it. There are still difficult moments but that’s normal for any athlete in any sport. I enjoy the feeling a good run or workout gives me, being competitive and making friends that will last a lifetime. I’ve heard of many track athletes who say they’ll never run again after they stop running track but I think I’ll have a hard time staying away!

I chose UVA because out of my official visits I determined that it was the best option for me. The girls on the track team were nice and welcoming which was important to me because I wanted a family-atmosphere on the team. Most importantly, I was impressed by how UVA had good athletic teams, strong academics and fun student life. This balance was something I was looking for in a school and no other school I was looking at could match that.

So far, my experience as a student-athlete at UVA has been great. It was certainly an adjustment from high school but I figured it out. I don’t get as nervous competing now as I used to because in high school I feel like there is too much pressure put on high school athletes. In high school getting a scholarship and attention was seen as the most important thing in sports. Now I enjoy competing more than I ever did and feel like there is no more pressure and the life balance at UVA likely contributed to that. I already achieved my goal of running at a D1 level. Now I can compete with no pressure, have fun and enjoy the time that I have left in my sport while working towards my future!

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