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Interval Session #36 - Ashton Purvis
February 21, 2008

Part of a big family of talented athletes, Oakland CA fr Ashton Purvis, who competes with St. Elizabeth’s HS and the East Oakland Youth Development Center club, has nonetheless distinguished herself as a unique young sprinter in the world of prep track and field. After many strong performances as a youth, she burst on to the prep scene last winter as a freshman to take 2nd in the NSIC 200 indoors, and rank 3rd in that event overall for the season (as well as top 15 in 55 and 60). She set national freshman records in both the 60 and 200.

Outdoors, she ranked 7th and 9th on the 100 and 200 time lists, setting an age-14 100 record along the way, and was 5th and 6th in those dashes at USATF Juniors. More significantly, she was picked to compete in the World Youth Championships in the Czech Republic, where she was 7th in the 100, 5th in the 200, and ran on the winning medley relay for Team USA. Sister Julian, meanwhile, took home the gold in the 100 hurdles.

This winter, she has picked right back up where she left off. At the huge Simplot meet last weekend, she won and PR’d in both the 60 (US#2 7.38A) and 200 (US#1 23.54A), adding the soph class record in the latter to the freshman mark she earned in 2007. DyeStat News Editor SteveU tracked down the young speedster in Oakland this week.

Ashton winning the 200 at Simplot. Photo John Dye

1. It was a heck of a weekend for you. Can you take us through how the prelims and finals went for the different races for you, and how you felt along the way?

This weekend was crazy. I was extremely nervous. My goal in the prelims was to run a fast time so I could get a preferred lane in the finals. Coming into the meet, I was working on my starts for the 60m. Because it is such a short race, you have to have a really good start to do well, so my goal in the 60m was to execute the start. Once I did well in the prelims in my flats, I felt more confident in the finals, because I could wear spikes and felt I could run faster.

2. You seem to be continuing to show improvement at all the shorter dash distances. Do you find you prefer the 60 and 100 over the 200, or vice versa? Or are you still liking them both equally and learning what’s your best event?

The 200m is my favorite event of all the races. I really understand my race model and I can execute it pretty well during the race. The 60m is a bit more challenging for me, because I struggle sometimes with my starts. I have been working on it, and it seems to be getting better, so I am feeling more comfortable in the 60m/100m. But the 200m is still my favorite.

3. It’s tough to keep improving when you’re at or close to the top at a young age. What are some things you’ve done this winter in training to keep improving from the high level you already reached last year? More weight training? Or different types of workouts? Do you train exclusively with the EOYDC and Coach Taylor, or is there a coach from your school that you train with, too … and how does that work out for you?

I was very disappointed with my results this summer in the Czech Republic, so I reviewed the film of my races and really worked on the things that I didn’t do well in those races. Also, every year my coach, Curtis Taylor, adds a new thing for us to focus on. This year, for me, it has been my starts and my strength that we have concentrated on. He introduces new drills to get the result we are looking for. Also, last year I was a freshman and everything was new to me, but after competing internationally I have a little bit more experience in big races. I am fortunate to have the support of a great high school coach, Fred Sims. He supports my training with Curtis Taylor at the EOYDC, which works well for me because I don’t have any conflict in my training.

4. We saw your sis Julian with some great hurdle times in an earlier meet this winter at U-W. Was she injured or something for Simplot? How are she and Amber doing in training and competing so far this year?

I am proud of Julian running very well at the University of Washington meet, and I was heartbroken when she had a mishap in the hurdle race at Simplot. I see her train hard at practice and I know she was ready to compete, but that’s how it is in the hurdles (so I will stick to my sprints). No, she is not hurt; she hit the third hurdle with her trail leg, which hindered her progress. Julian is a good competitor and will bounce back, because she always does, which is why I respect her so much. Amber does not train with us, so I don’t know how things are going with her training. I am sure she is doing well and am excited to see what she will do this year..

Julian and Ashton Purvis. Submitted by Purvis family 
5. You and Julian had an incredible opportunity last summer to represent the USA at the World Youth Championships. What was that like competitively, and what were some of the coolest parts of the trip -- off the track? How motivating was something like that to keep you going for a chance to do it again as a Junior or Senior?

It was an honor to represent the USA at the World Youth Championships. It was a very competitive meet. It was interesting to see all of the people who were just as fast as me. I was the youngest on the team, and was a little overwhelmed, but I feel that the experience prepared me to compete on an international level. I am motivated to make another team so I can bring home an individual medal. The team bonded so well with each other, and I would like to be on another team so I can have that experience again. I was exposed to people from different countries and I heard a lot of languages I never heard before. It was a great experience.

6. I’ve read about your drive to train and succeed, rain, sleet or shine. What are the things mentally that motivate you the most as a competitor? Does having successful older sisters and brother play a big part?

I am a very competitive person, so I think between myself and Curtis, I stay motivated. I think I am with the best coach for my personality, because he challenges me as much as I challenge myself and we both want the same result: to perform to my ability. Having successful siblings is nice, because we can share in each other’s success, but I think I would be competitive and want to be successful whether they were in the sport or not.

7. I saw where you’ve been involved in other extracurricular activities, like ballet, theatre and poetry. Are these still interests of yours? What else do you enjoy in school and when you’re not training or studying?

Yes, my mother was always trying to find things for me and Julian to do when we were little. In addition to the things you mentioned, we played the piano and basketball, too. Ballet was fun when I was little, but eventually because of my track schedule I had to stop. The theatre and the poetry are part of my school activities, but I started to really enjoy both and I continue to write. I have a very vivid imagination, because I watch a lot of different things on TV, which I talk about in my writing.

8. It seems like your mom and siblings are very supportive of your endeavors. How important is family in what you do?

My family is very important to me. They are so supportive of me and everything I do, whether it is a school play, an oratorical or a track meet. I have a lot of friends, who are like family, that support us while we are traveling and help my mom. No matter where my track meet is, my mom always tries to make it to cheer for Julian and me. Julian and I are so happy for each other. We root for each other and we want the best for each other. I can’t say I would be as successful if I didn’t have so much support behind me. I not only run for myself, but I run for all of the people that contribute to my success.

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