It’s been about a year since Kyra Jefferson took on track professionally. But yet, she still finds herself in her fathers shadow.
“ I feel that since my father was an Olympian, my accomplishments are often compared to his,” says Jefferson. “It doesn't add pressure on me, in fact it makes me want to be better than him.”
After graduating from the University of Florida, Kyra took the first step to accomplishing her goals of making track a career and surpassing her father by signing with NIKE.
“I knew that I wanted to run professionally,” says Jefferson. “NIKE saw my performance at NCAA Championships - breaking a 28 year old collegiate record in what is a race to remember at Hayward Field. They decided to sponsor me because they saw something in me. They saw that I could be great.”
Through her contract with Nike, Jefferson is paid to practice and compete in their gear. Along with being paid to be seen in their clothing, NIKE has also opened opportunities for Kyra to travel and compete on behalf of the brand.
“I competed briefly last summer as a Nike athlete and enjoyed the hospitality at the NIKE House in London for the world championships, I absolutely love their fashion innovations,” says Jefferson.
Out of the few countries she has traveled to already, Kyra says that her favorite place to visit was Monaco.
“It’s so beautiful, the people are so welcoming and are big track fans, you feel like a celebrity.” Kyra has visited four countries altogether so far and plans to visit three more countries this summer.
To add on to her accomplishments, Jefferson has also competed in the Diamond Leagues for Team USA. This is a series of international competitions and recently she competed in the Penn Relays, which is a track and field competition that’s hosted annually by the University of Pennsylvania at the Franklin Field.
“This was my first Penn Relays and it was exciting! The crowd was really loud on the final turn where I was, but this meet was different because it was just relays,” says Jefferson.
Jefferson competed in the women’s 4x1 for the USA Red team where they came in second place to Jamaica by .04 seconds.
When asked what were her the plans for the future, Kyra responds that she will compete in a few more Diamond League and International World Challenge meets, and then compete at the USA Championships.
“There are no major championships this summer so everyone's objective is to win the Diamond League series. This is done by accumulating enough points per race to qualify for the Diamond League Final and winning,” says Jefferson.
Kyra explained that the Diamond League Final will be held in either Brussels or Zurich this year depending on the events. “A win in this year's Diamond League will give the winners per event a bye to compete in Doha for 2019 World Championships,” says Jefferson.
According to Jefferson, a “bye” means that some athletes will not have to try out to make the top three at USA Championships and that USA will take four people in the respective event.
As for plans to exceed her fathers accomplishments, Kyra aims to be an Olympic Gold medalist one day.
“I want to be better than I think I am, I want to run 21 seconds, I want to win world championships, I want to win an Olympic GOLD, I want to be a well-known name in this sport and someone who people remember years after I retire,” says Jefferson.
In hopes of inspiring other aspiring professional track and field athletes that watch her, Kyra encourages them to always believe.
“Always believe something wonderful is going to happen. It's easy to think negatively and allow doubt to creep in on your goals,” says Kyra. “Being professional is challenging but its also so much fun. If you want to be great you have to decide that you will do anything it takes to do so.”
As of now, you’ll find Kyra in Shanghai, China getting ready to take on another IAAF Diamond League competition this Saturday, May 12th, 2018. You can watch her complete on NBCSN/NBS Sports Gold at 8:14am EST.