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Interval Session #104 - Dominique Booker

By SteveU - March 5, 2009

For someone who thrives on spiritual strength and a challenge, this indoor season has been quite a ride for East Orange NJ (Montclair Immaculate) junior Dominique Booker.  After her 6.92 55 dash at the New Jersey Meet of Champs, which firmed up the national lead in that event she’s held much of the winter, she was filled with emotion.  She felt people had been doubting her, she told DyeStat Metro’s Jim Lambert, even when she lost a key competitor in friendly rival English Gardner of Eastern NJ, who suffered a season-ending injury.

Winning a state championship, though, was the fulfillment just one of the goals Booker hopes to achieve this year, many of them on the national level.  Her parents, Stefani and Martin, were both track stars and her father was a coach of champions at Camden for many years, but she was allowed to embrace track on her own terms.  Now her goals, and the confidence to achieve them, are clearly coming from within, as well.  With just over a week until Nike Indoors, her next meet, she took a few minutes to share her thoughts with DyeStat senior editor SteveU.

Winning at Eastern States. Photo John Nepolitan
1)  Dominique, you’ve had a great season so far, especially in lowering that 55 time down close to 6.9.  How have you felt about how your junior indoor season has gone so far?

I feel that my junior indoor season has been very successful.  I’m just speechless about the tremendous progress I have made.  I set high goals for myself and they are being reached.
2)  Along with the short dashes, you’ve run some 200s, 300s, and 400s.  Do you consider yourself a 60 (indoors) and 100 (outdoors) runner first, or are you equally interested in all of the sprints?  Also, how important is it to you to get that 200 back down into the low 24s and break that PR from last year?

I actually prefer the 60m, 100m and 200m dashes.  I like the shorter races better for some reason, but I do like the 300m and 400m because they make me a better runner.  I have been blessed to have the talent to run them all.  As far as the 200, I would absolutely love to drop my time back down.  I love the 200m and to PR again – I know that is possible!  It is number one on my list of goals.

3)  You were 2nd and 4th last year in the Nike Indoor 60 and 200.  Is winning one or both of those events a big goal for you, or are you more the type of athlete who wants to generally improve and progress, do the best you can, and let the chips fall where they may?

Winning both of the events is a huge goal of mine, but I’m going to go in there and give it my all.  I do like to improve each meet and I believe I’ll do phenomenally at the Nike Nationals.

4)  I didn’t see where you ran any of the outdoor national meets last spring.  Was that due to illness or injury, or a decision made because you’d just had enough track for the season at that point, or something else?

The main reason I didn’t run at the outdoor Nike Outdoor Nationals was because I was hurt.  I had suffered from a mild hamstring injury and my coach made the decision.  It was a good decision because I was able to get stronger, healthy and focus more on the indoor season.

   2nd at NIN 60 in 2008.
Photo Vic Sailer, photorun.net
5)  I understand your parents were both very successful track athletes at the HS level and beyond, and that your dad has coached a long time.  Can you talk about how that exposure to the sport influenced your interest in it?  Were you strongly encouraged to give it a shot or did your interest come naturally and on your own?

Well, when I was younger I just ran for the fun of it; I didn’t know anything about track or about speed.  I was involved with my father’s AAU track team and just was a little kid that got out there and ran.  I was always told that I was fast and someday I would be a great runner. 

As far as encouragement, I was encouraged to do whatever sport I wanted.  I did basketball, cheerleading and other sports before track became the “ONE.”  I found my track calling on my own but with a little guidance from my parents and a lot of convincing from my coach.

6)  From what I’ve read, you were really into basketball for quite a while, but it looks like you pretty much gave it up for indoor track.  How tough was that decision and do you ever miss hoops?

Basketball had become my main sport in 7th and 8th grade; I was a really good defensive player.  My aggressiveness and speed helped me to be a good guard.  It was a very tough decision to give it up.  It had become my heart and it kind of hurt to let it go.  Sometimes I do miss playing basketball, and wish I could do both (track and basketball), but I know that I made the right choice.  I don’t regret it at all.

7) Others I’ve talked with say your spirituality is a big part of your life and who you are as an athlete.  Can you say more about that?  Have there been tough decisions or tough times when you really needed, and found, that kind of guidance?

I believe in first impressions and image; I don’t think about rivals or enemies in track.  I have respect for everyone I run with.  I want people to be able to say that I’m a nice and humble person.  I want to be known as a person who is approachable and well rounded.  God has blessed me with a beautiful talent and I should use it right.  He has made ways for me to be successful and gave me the ability to run. 

As a child, I was brought up to rely on God as my source of guidance.  There have been countless times that I have gone to him to bring me through.  I almost died three times over my life span because I was a very sick child at birth and God has kept me on this earth.  God is the source of my strength.

8)  Looking ahead to the rest of this indoor and outdoor season, and beyond, what are some of your goals in terms of times and places at major meets, and running beyond high school?
I have huge goals for the rest of this indoor and outdoor season.  I want to go to nationals and run what I am capable of running in the 60m and 200m.  I want to drop my time in the 200m and run in the 23’s.  I know it’s in me!!!  This outdoor season I just want to lower my times each time I step on the track.  I would like to run 11.6 or better in the 100m and drop down in the 23’s for the 200m, but in order to do that I would have to run more 400’s (my least favorite event).  The sky’s is the limit for me!!! 

As far as placing, I want to be number one.  I have dreams and ambitions beyond high school track, I’m going to go the distance and become a legend.  With God on my side, impossible is possible.

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