SE: K-State Sports Extra Q&A | A Conversation between Olympic Hopefuls

Every month during the athletic year, K-State Sports Extra features a new student-athlete in its monthly Q&A special. This month, we switched things up a bit and handed the reigns to K-State track and field thrower Sara Savatovic. 

In this month’s K-State Sports Extra Q&A, Savatovic interviews track and field multi-event senior Akela Jones. The two talk about this weekend’s DeLoss Dodds Invitational where numerous potential Olympians will compete, their Olympic hopes, and what it means to be a K-State student-athlete. 

Jones, the reigning NCAA Outdoor heptathlon champion, is among the most talented student-athletes to set foot at K-State. Along with her national title, she owns numerous records, indoor and outdoor, with the track and field program – she most recently broke the Ahearn Field House facility 60-meter women’s hurdle record with a time of 8.17 at the Wildcat Invitational – and should qualify to represent her home country of Barbados at the 2016 Rio Olympics. 

Jones has high hopes for tomorrow’s DeLoss Dodds pentathlon competition in Ahearn Field House. If she competes well, her marks will be good enough to break the NCAA pentathlon record. Fans are encouraged to come out to Ahearn Field House tomorrow afternoon to cheer on Jones and witness track and field history in the making. Admission is free. 

Savatovic, a native of Crvenka, Serbia, is a five-time Big 12 Champion in the weight and the hammer throw. She holds the K-State track and field record in the women’s hammer throw with a toss of 66.41m/217-04 at last year’s outdoor Big 12 Championship. She ranks No. 3 in Wildcat history in the weight throw with a mark of 20.66m/67-09.50 at last season’s Big 12 Championships. Savatovic holds the Serbian national record in the women’s hammer throw and, like Jones, has the talent, drive and skill to make it in this year’s Olympics. 

Here’s a glance into Savatovic and Jones’ conversation:

Sara Savatovic: Akela, could you please introduce yourself?

Akela Jones: I am Akela Jones, I’m from Barbados, I am a heptathlete at K-State and I just love being here. 

SS: Why did you choose to come to K-State?

AJ: Because I want to be great. I want to be the greatest in the world, and I realized that K-State was the place to do that and would make my dreams come true. It was an easy decision to come to K-State.

SS: Great, and these dreams are coming true already! You have accomplished so much, but what, to you, is your biggest accomplishment in track and field?

AJ: Going to the World Championships last summer, the first year doing the heptathlon and qualifying for the Olympics. Going to the world championships and seeing how they operate, seeing how structured the meet is, I got a feel for it because I know it’s similar to the Olympics.

SS: Was the Olympics always your dream?

AJ: Yes. From the time I realized I was a little better than average, it was always a dream of mine. Was the Olympics always your dream?

SS: Yes! It’s always been my dream since I started. I think the Olympics is the dream of every athlete. It’s the goal that motivates us every day in practice so we can accomplish and be the best in the events that we can.

Moving on, our team is really good; we have so many Olympic hopefuls. What do you guys talk about at practice? Do you talk about seeing each other at the Olympics together?

AJ: Yesterday I was having a conversation with Coach (Cliff) Rovelto, I was talking about past athletes and the ones currently on the K-State team, and I said, ‘Coach, how cool would it to have five of us qualify in the standard for the Olympics?’ The story would be: one coach, one school, five different countries.
We have Rhizlane Siba (sophomore from Morocco), Alex Treasure (senior from Canada), Kimberly Williamson (junior form Jamaica), we also have my training partner Vanessa Jules (Haiti) and me, so that’s five of us who could qualify. That’s phenomenal, it’s unheard of.

SS: Wow! One coach. Five counties.

AJ: Yeah! I was thinking about it yesterday; I just hope it comes true. 

SS: So you’re competing in the pentathlon at the DeLoss Dodds Invitational this weekend. Are you excited for that?

AJ: I am! But I’m nervous at the same time. I know a lot of people are focused this year, and since I won the NCAA title, a lot of eyes on me. I still have a lot of training to do, a lot of training and techniques to improve on, but I just want to go out there and represent K-State well. I know my best is really, really good and my worst is still pretty good, so I think I have a safe boundary to lean on.

SS: Finally, what is the best part about being a student-athlete at K-State? 

AJ: K-State is all about building a full, well-rounded person. It’s not just about building a sportsperson. It’s about academics, it’s about being patient, growing as a man, becoming a woman; it’s just all around a fully structured environment. If you want a better life, come to K-State. Here in Manhattan, you get to relax; you really get to feel like you’re a student at K-State and not just an athlete because athletes can get a lot of pressure, but at K-State, a student-athlete gets to feel like a student, and that’s the best part.

For a full lineup and schedule of events for tomorrow’s pentathlon in Ahearn Field House, please click here


We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Kelly McHugh-Stewart or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.