For the Khan family, the trip from Mercer Island to Sacramento, California for the United States Track and Field National Junior Olympic Championship has become a tradition over the last three years.
Aaliyah Khan, 11, and Azad Khan, 14, both got on the podium at the championships, which ran from July 22-28. Their mother, Aleena Khan, said watching them be successful fills her with pride.
“It’s a family experience,” Aleena said. “They worked so hard, so it’s gratifying. It’s all their hard work.”
Azad competed in the boys 13-14 age group in both the long jump and the 400-meters. He finished eighth in the long jump with a jump of 19-feet, 1.25-inches and 25th in the 400 with a time of 55.57 seconds. While he was happy with his performance, Azad was hoping to do better at the long jump, his favorite and best event.
“I didn’t get my personal record,” Azad said. “I was tired from competing the day before.”
Aaliyah competed in the girls 11-12 age group and finished sixth in the javelin. Her throw of 98-feet, 4.25-inches set a new personal record.
“It was really hot there,” Aaliyah said. “But I had fun.”
All four of the Khan children, Azad, Ahad, Aaliyah and Alisha, are members of the Speed Unlimited Track and Field Club in Bellevue.
Being successful at track and field takes focus, and Aleena said that includes exercise, eating well and getting to bed early. For Azad and Aaliyah, their success in California was a culmination of their hard work.
“There was a lot of practice and effort that went into it,” Azad said.
This fall, Azad will be a freshman at Mercer Island High School where he will be joining the Islanders track and field team. He hopes to make it to the state tournament, but he knows it won’t be easy. Aaliyah will be starting at Islander Middle School this fall and hopes to join the Islanders track and field team in the future.
With four kids competing in track, Aleena said she tries to keep things from getting too competitive at home by making sure they are working to break their own personal records and not trying to beat each other.
“We try to keep it individual and focus on beating your own mark,” Aleena said.