LEXINGTON, Ky (WTVQ) – Earlier this week, former Frederick Douglass Track and Field star Christian Lewis received the email he’d been waiting for weeks to receive. Gatorade had named him the Kentucky Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
“I was real hype in my room. I was like ‘momma momma momma’ I won! I went in there she was like what?! We both hopped out the bed. We were all jumping and excited and stuff,” said Lewis. “It was just a good time because it shows like the past three years of me working hard and having fun in the jumps and with my team and stuff, it just really paid off.”
The road to here started when Lewis was ten and started jumping. At 11 he went to the Junior Olympics and was the second-ranked jumper in the nation. It hasn’t always been easy. In 8th grade, adversity hit when Lewis got hurt.
“I was already so used to just jumping in and winning all the time. So then I was losing and I remember one in the car,” says Lewis. “It was after about the fourth meet and I was looking at my momma and I was like…I should be beating these people. I should be winning. I should be doing this. And she looked at me and she was like, it’s not like that no more. You gotta work hard. I remember I was crying. I was like, alright. From that moment on, I learned at 14 that you gotta work for the things that you really want.”
When high school hit, Lewis started to soar. At meets, people started to highlight when he was going to jump.
“Initially it started off with about 10 people doing it. Then it jumped to about 30 people coming to watch me jump. Then 50,” Lewis said smiling. “I remember the very first junior meet last year, it was the whole facility in there watching me jump all lined up. We have a picture of it. Every single person just lined up watching. Clapping and watching me jump. I just learned to love it and I learned to embrace the person I am and let my personality be shown on the jump pit.”
Lewis has become a decorated jumper. He holds the Kentucky indoor long jump record at 24 feet 3 inches, the outdoor state record of 24’6” that earned him All-American honors at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals and an unofficial state record of 25’7”.
Now Lewis is headed to jump with the big boys. Back in the fall, he signed with South Carolina. He knows that’s the big time, but he plans to draw on the same inspiration from when he faced adversity as a kid.
“I’m just gonna do the same thing when I was in 8th grade,” said Lewis. “Look down, I might lose. I might not be the best I wanna be at that point, but I gotta look down and realize that my momma’s not gonna be there to tell me that this time, but I’m gonna look down and be like, I gotta restart. Just gotta keep working to get back to the top.”