Fifteen-year-old Dorian Claggett recently made a host of Marylanders proud after qualifying for the 2011 AAU National Junior Track and Field Olympics.

Dorian, a native of Baltimore, Md., earned first-place honors in the 200-meter dash, 400-meter dash, 100-meter relay and the 400-meter relay June 11-12 at the Maryland district meet, a Junior Olympics qualifying meet held at Poly/Western High School.

Claggett will be attending and running track for Poly/Western as a junior student next fall semester, but he’s using this summer to run for the Baltimore City Track and Field Club (AAU). He’ll compete again June 25-26 at South Hagerstown High School in the last meet to officially qualify for the Junior Olympics held in Louisiana during the first week of August.

Dorian, who has earned more than 60 track awards since he first began running at age 12, told the AFRO that he’ll be dedicating upcoming performances to his late grandmother, Patricia Claggett.

“When I first qualified for the National Junior Olympics a couple years ago, my grandmother had just suffered a stroke, so I dedicated the event to her,” Dorian said. “I did really well in my races, but my grandmother passed a year later. Since then, I’ve dedicated all of my races to her; she’s my inspiration on the track.”

Dorian said most of his family has been positive, motivating forces in his life, including his grandfather, Marvin “Doc” Cheatham Sr., an election specialist for the National Labor Relations Board and 17th president of the NAACP Baltimore City Branch. Doc Cheatham is present, cheering at most of his grandson’s last five events, along with Dorian’s mother, Monika Cheatham, perhaps his greatest supporter of all.

“I’m incredibly proud of Dorian,” said the mother, who explained just how passionate of a competitor her son is. “Dorian has always been extremely competitive; even when he was much younger and playing just a game of Monopoly, he would always keep playing until he would win, and that has stayed with him. I think that gives him an advantage when he’s running.”

Cheatham told the AFRO her son even researches the runners that he will race against so that he can know what to expect and how to prepare himself to win.

For Dorian, it’s not just a race on the line, but his future goals as well. He wants to run as well as he can now so he can receive a full scholarship to study at any college or university of his choice. Currently, he has his sights on Arkansas State University, Florida State University, University of Miami and University of Maryland-Eastern Shore.

“I’d love the opportunity to compete in the Olympic Games in 2016, but I’m mainly focused on earning a full ride so I can study in the field of sports medicine,” Dorian said. “I love competing on the track, but I also want to be academically prepared to compete against other challenges in life.”

 

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor