Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Collins named Youth Athlete of the Year

JACKSONVILLE - IAAF World Youth Championships gold medalist and record holder Ebony Collins of Los Angeles, California, has been named the 2005 Youth Athlete of the Year by USA Track & Field. Collins will be honored December 1 at the Jesse Owens Awards and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, held at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Jacksonville, Fla. The ceremony is held in conjunction with USA Track & Field's 2005Annual Meeting November 30-December 1 in Jacksonville.

Collins was a star throughout the summer of 2005 as she set records at each of the meets in which she competed, beginning with the USA Youth Outdoor Championships June 29-July 3 in Knoxville, Tenn. At the meet, Collins clocked the fastest youth time ever by a female in the 400m hurdles. The 16-year-old Collins ran 57.87 to break the intermediate girls' division (15-16) record of 58.84, set in 2001 by Talia Stewart of Richmond, Calif. Her performance also was faster than the young women's division (17-18) 400m hurdles record of 57.94, set in 2001 by Tiffany Ross of Miami, Fla.

At USATF's Junior Olympic Championships July 26-31 in Indianapolis, Collins separated herself from the field after the third hurdle en route to a Junior Olympic intermediate girls' record with a time of 58.26 seconds. Her time eclipsed the previous record of 58.84, also held since 2001 by Talia Stewart.

Collins delivered her best performance while in a Team USA uniform, at the IAAF World Youth Championships July 13-17 in Marrakech, Morocco, where she was the star of the meet.

Collins ran smoothly over each hurdle in 55.96 seconds to crush the meet record and set a personal best by two seconds in the girls' 400m hurdles, finishing nearly 2.5 seconds ahead of second-place Lauren Boden of Australia (58.30). Collins shattered the championship record time of 57.54 seconds set in 2003 by Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic. Showing her versatility, Collins also earned a silver medal earlier in the meet, running the 100m in 11.44 seconds just 30 minutes after the 400 hurdles first round to place second in the short sprint.

"I am excited to be recognized and win such a high award," said Collins, who currently is a senior at Long Beach Wilson High School and whose summertime exploits landed her in Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd." "I am excited as I focus on Beijing."

"The future of Team USA is bright with athletes such as Ebony," said USATF CEO Craig Masback. "Her accomplishments have proven the benefit of USATF's Youth and Junior programs within the U.S. as well as on the world stage."