Ama’s Harris chasing dreams of Olympic GOLD

For the busiest among us, it’s often said that “there aren’t enough hours in the day” to accomplish their daily goals.

It’s a saying that seemingly doesn’t apply at all to Jarvis Harris.

Harris, a native of Ama, has pushed himself to become a virtual blur of accomplishments thus far in his young life. He graduated with a degree in biomedical engineering from Harvard University; while there, he set three Harvard track and field records and was a four-time NCAA Regional qualifier. He has also taken interest in dance performance and has helped put together fashion shows.

He was a member of the National Honor Society and National Spanish Honor Society, and he graduated from Jesuit with a 4.42 GPA. Harris won a total of five state championship titles during his senior track season as a Blue Jay.

All of his wins set school records at Jesuit, which has participated in athletics since 1847.

As one might assume, someone doesn’t paint this kind of picture of achievement without constant drive and a penchant for setting lofty goals. And so Harris, now officially a Harvard alumnus, is not resting on his laurels.

He is in Phoenix, Ariz., training at ALTIS (formerly the World Athletics Center) with a goal in mind to one day soon achieve his dream – to compete at the track and field national championships and, eventually, the Olympics. Harris holds Harvard’s 60-meter indoor hurdles record — a mark that stood for 16 years, the 110-meter hurdles record and helped his team set the sprint and medley relay record.

Running is a great passion for Harris, developed at an early age when he’d continually challenge his Boutte Christian Academy physical education teacher, David Raymond, to race him.

“One day I finally beat him,” Harris said. “That was when I really decided I wanted to run. He always wanted me to run track.”

When he was 9, Harris was encouraged by neighbor Norman Singleton Jr. to be a part of the St. Charles Striders, a local track team. From that point on, he was trained to take part in all track events under the tutelage of coaches Nat Henry and Ulysses Frontha. Harris liked the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter dashes, but his favorite was the long jump.

Harris went on to become a track superstar at Jesuit and at Harvard, and he has competed in countries like Ireland and England.

When it became time to take things to another level and find Olympic-level training, he found himself accepted to two different centers, ALTIS and the SPIRE Institute in Ohio. “I was in Boston freezing, but in Phoenix I’m back in the heat, which I love,” Harris said. “I much prefer the sun to the snow.

“I’m so excited to be at ALTIS. There are some truly great, world-renowned coaches and many of the most elite athletes in the world as well. I’m training with athletes who have been on that world stage. It can do nothing but better me.”He is focused on four events, the 110- and 300-meter hurdles, the triple jump and the 400-meter hurdles, the latter event one he had to talk himself into.

“Too much voluntary torture,” Harris said. “But I’m kind of good at it, so even as much as I hate it, I’m doing the 400 meter hurdles.”

To get to this point while also earning his degree in biomedical engineering — he graduated with that honor in tow in May – seems hardly possible to the everyday guy or gal. So, how does Harris find enough hours in the day?

“Everyone asks me that,” Harris said with a laugh. “I spent so many, many hours in the lab. At one point, I was locked in that lab for eight hours a day, Monday through Sunday … It came down to time management and prayer. ‘The Lord sustains’ was my quote.”

The motivation came internally.

“I felt it would be worth it, to achieve and build my own success,” Harris said. “It cost me a little bit of sleep, but it’s worth it.”

The Olympics, he said, have been a dream of his since he took up his love of running — “I think everyone, when they start running, has that dream of being the very best to do it,” he says — and now what was a faint notion to him once comes closer and closer to being a reality with each passing day of training.

Harris admits he cannot do it all on his own; he has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost of attendance at ALTIS, along with traveling to competitions and other training costs.

“I know I need support,” he said. “I will have a part time job on top of my six days a week of full-time training … but the overall costs sum up to an amount I cannot handle alone.”

The page, found at gofundme.com/jarviskharris, raised $2,380 within its first 21 days online.

 

About Anna Thibodeaux 2071 Articles
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