“It was surreal. I can barely describe it. It’s the feeling that all of my hard work paid off.”
That’s how 18-year-old Anna Cockrell described the moments after she won two gold medals at the 2016 World U20 Championship.
This past weekend at the 2016 u20 World Championship in Bydgoszcz, Poland, Cockrell won the 400 meter hurdles with her best time of 55.20 — a time that puts her as the ninth best of all time for the U20 world championship race.
Her 4×400 meter relay team also came in first place with a time of 3:29:11. Watch the relay here.
After qualifying at the US Junior Championship in California earlier this year, Cockrell traveled to Poland to represent the US where she also served as the captain of the USA women’s junior team. Cockrell was nominated by her teammates as a leader on and off the track, with the responsibility of acting as a liaison between the coaches and the athletes. That’s a lot of responsibility.
While Cockrell has earned her spot as one of the best track athletes in the world, like any competitor, she has also experienced disappointment.
But instead of letting missteps discourage her, Cockrell said she used these disappointments as catalysts for her next race, for her next competition. She is continuously pushing herself to work harder and improve. So whenever a practice feels too challenging, Cockrell just thinks back to those moments when she was disappointed — it’s those experiences that motivate her to keep going.
Cockrell has a list of her goals on a whiteboard in her room that keep her looking toward the future and focusing on what’s really important. She has learned not to sweat the little stuff. And, she did mention a love of Beyonce for when times really get tough.
Cockrell isn’t alone — her support system of High school coach Carol Lawrence and close family unit keep her focused.
Cockrell credits part of her success to her parents because of their unwavering support. She said that “they’re there when I’m winning and when I need advice or when I just need a kick in the butt. I credit them a lot with helping me develop my competitive side and my worth ethic.”
Lawrence, Providence Day School’s track coach, traveled to Poland with Cockrell. Cockrell couldn’t have been more complimentary of Lawrence. She said that her coach knows how to push her both physically and mentally — especially with the 400 meter hurdles, which is a particularly taxing event for Cockrell. Her weekly workouts involve a mix of both endurance and high intensity drills.
Constantly looking to improve, Cockrell describes her practice mentality.
“I don’t really believe in doing things half way. Do it right. I don’t like to be lazy. I want to get the most out of my practice and my time.”
Cockrell will be running for University of Southern California this fall and is excited for what the future holds.
To keep up with Cockrell as she continues to (literally) hurdle over national and world records, you can follow her on Instagram @annacockrell.