Battle’s journey to becoming an Olympian
By Sarah Shurge – Anavia Battle is now an international name.
At the age of 22, Battle made her first U.S. team, which just so happened to be the U.S. Olympic team.
On Saturday, June 26th, Battle qualified for the U.S. Olympic team after placing third in the 200-meter dash at the Olympic Trials with a time of 21.95 seconds.
The time was a personal best for Battle and made her the fifth fastest woman in the world for the 200 meters this year before the Olympics.
Battle has always been a fast runner, but there was a time when she didn’t truly utilize her talent.
Her track career began in 7th grade at Franklin Middle School. She continued running track in high school at Wayne Memorial, and even though she won all of her races, she didn’t take it seriously.
“My grandma always told me if I’m going to do something, be the best at it. Back then I didn’t really take that in. I was just running to have an extracurricular activity,” said Battle.
However, her junior year of high school, Battle began taking track seriously. This came with the help of her coach, Jamal Johnson.
“He would push me and said I had talent that I didn’t see,” said Battle.
Once Battle realized how good she was at the sport and how she liked the feeling of winning, her mentality changed.
“I always won races. But rather than ‘athlete versus athlete,’ it started being ‘athlete versus the clock,’” said Battle.
Battle went on to run track for Ohio State University and created a name for herself.
Throughout her time at OSU, she has won seven individual Big Ten Conference titles and won multiple Big Ten outdoor championships and individual titles. Four times she was named Big Ten’s track athlete of the year/of the championship.
She broke multiple Ohio State school records such as the outdoor 200 meters with a time of 22.28 and the indoor 200 meters with a time of 22.66. She also set the Big Ten indoor championships record in the 200 with a time of 22.75 in 2019.
With the time of 21.95, Battle is the fastest collegiate athlete of all time for the 200m.
Battle is a senior at Ohio State majoring in Human Development and Family Science. She is graduating this month with the goal of becoming a first grade teacher, and plans on getting her master’s degree in Education Administration and becoming a principal or superintendent.
Aside from having a career, she also plans on becoming a pro athlete.
“I’m glad I didn’t take it [track] seriously in the beginning. Some people play a sport so long they hate it,” said Battle. “I’ve put so much into this. I have nothing but love for this sport. It’s taken me places I didn’t know I could go and opened so many doors.”
Battle grew up in Inkster as the youngest of four children in a single-parent household. She’s very close with her mother Antoinette Booze-Battle, sister Mintoria, and two brothers, Antoine and Montel.
“Society says coming from a black American single-parent home, my children were not supposed to succeed. I’m proud to say they beat the odds. Look at where they are today,” said Booze-Battle.
Battle isn’t the only runner in her family.
Montel ran track for Mississippi State University and her granddad, Clyde Battle, ran track in high school and college. Her granddad has been a big influence in her life by always being there for her and giving advice before a run and asking questions afterwards.
Having a shy personality, Battle noticed a change in people’s attitude towards her almost immediately after the Olympic Trials in Oregon.
“I was walking through the airport coming from the trials and had to sign a girl’s boarding pass,” said Battle.
Then the press began reaching out to her for interviews.
“I don’t like talking about myself and it seems like every week I’m doing interviews. It’s been hard but it’s given me a chance to get out of my box. It’s giving me a lot of exposure,” said Battle. “It’s nice to do this for other people, for myself, and for other little girls so they can see you can do what you want if you put your mind to it and put the work in.”
More and more people began recognizing Anavia Battle’s name.
“Especially with social media. I got 3,000 followers in one night and I’m verified on Twitter now,” said Battle.
And now people are putting a face to the name.
“When I’m walking on campus I’m so used to people not saying anything to me. Now I go into stores and people say congrats and ask for pictures with me,” said Battle.
But Battle isn’t letting anything get to her.
“I avoid having the light on me. I don’t like to get treated any differently. My friends still treat me the same. They celebrated me after the trials, now it’s back to business, and then they’ll celebrate me when I get back home,” said Battle.
The Olympics began Friday, July 23rd, and end Sunday, August 8th.
Battle’s flight left for Japan on July 24th and arrived in Tokyo on the 25th.
Due to COVID-19, Tokyo is not accepting fans in the stands during the Olympics. To compensate for this, USA Track & Field supplied Battle with two tickets for a watch party in Orlando, Florida. She gave the tickets to her mom and Montel.
“I still feel like this is a dream. Reality probably won’t hit me until I meet up with Montel in Orlando and we sit down and watch the race together,” said Booze-Battle. “I am beyond excited to be watching one of my four success stories unfold in front of the whole world.”
Battle ran August 1st and 2nd in the Olympics.
Sunday night she finished second in her heat (and eighth overall) with a time of 22.54 and advanced to the semifinals. For her semifinal on Monday, she finished sixth in her heat with a time of 23.02 and did not qualify for the 200m finals.
Overall, she finished 16th in the semifinals of the 200-meter dash at the Tokyo Olympics.