South Carolina sophomore sprinter Aliyah Abrams is going to the Summer Olympics in Rio by representing Guyana, a country she’s never stepped foot in.
A native of Grayson, Ga., Abrams is eligible to earn a spot on the Guyana team because her parents were born there.
Abrams achieved the time standard of 52.20 seconds in the 400 meters to qualify.
She will have one of her biggest supporters there in USC coach Curtis Frye, who’ll be coaching Team USA in sprints and hurdles.
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“We have a very good relationship,” Abrams said. “He tells me what I need to work on and I listen. I have to listen to everything he says even if I don’t agree with it, but it’s definitely a good relationship.”
Despite suffering a serious injury in her junior year of high school, Abrams’ freshman season was full of honors and accomplishments. She finished first in the 400 at the Texas A&M Team Invitational and was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Jan. 19.
While Frye admitted he took a chance recruiting Abrams after her injury in high school, he said he’s extremely grateful to have her on his team.
“We’re fortunate to have Aliyah Abrams,” Frye said. “We took a chance that she was going to return and develop off of her sophomore year and we lucked out. She led our mile relay to where it’s the third best relay in the South and the fourth best in the country. She’s competed like the five-star athlete she is.”
Frye, who has coached at USC for 20 years, will be making his second trip to the Olympics in August. He served as an assistant coach for the U.S. women's team at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.
One of Abrams’ fondest memories involving Frye was when he helped her calm down after she got frustrated at practice.
“He’s always telling me to get out, meaning work on my start and stop waiting until the end,” Abrams said. “There was this one time I was doing my workout and I guess I didn’t do it (well) so I was a little upset. Afterwards, he pulled me to the side and we just talked and he was like, ‘Make sure you do this, you’re going to be a future leader and I don’t need you getting upset like this,’ so that was probably my most memorable moment.”
Abrams, who set a personal goal of running a 51.0 time in the 400, feels confident she can achieve her goal because of her training at USC.
“In my short time being here, I have definitely developed more mental toughness,” Abrams said. “It’s also about trusting in your body and your coach and just that preparation you get from being around from a coach who has brought people to the Olympics and still has people in the Olympics. It’s a win-win situation being here at USC.”
Gamecocks in Rio
USC athletes who have qualified for the Olympics so far:
Aliyah Abrams: Track, Team Guyana
Julia Vincent: Diving, Team South Africa
Akaram Mahmoud: Swimming, Team Egypt
Sabrina D'angelo: Soccer, Team Canada
Dawn Staley: Team USA women's basketball assistant coach
Curtis Frye: Team USA coach in sprints and hurdles