From working at McDonald’s as a teenager to running at the Olympics, this 25-year-old has now become a world-class athlete who might possibly bring home a gold medal at the Games.
Quanesha Burks worked long hours at McDonald’s to support her family while being raised by her grandparents. However, for Quanesha, she saw this as an investment towards a future that included attending college.
When Quanesha was in high school, she knew her athletic skills would lead her to a scholarship, but for her, it was a choice between track and basketball. Once she took third place at the USATF National Junior Olympics, she decided to pursue track.
She did her research on how to get a full ride, and stuck to the goals she wrote down on paper to achieve them. By the time she graduated from Hartselle High School, Quanesha earned 11 state track titles and a scholarship to the University of Alabama.
In 2019, Quanesha’s grandfather had passed away a week before the U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships. A year after, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and unfortunately, it left hers, as well as many other athletes’ sports suspended. Not only that but as she continued to train, Quanesha suffered from a bone injury that left her sidelined for nearly three months.
“It felt like all the odds were against me,” Quanesha told Sports Illustrated. “At one point, my coach told me, ‘I don’t know if you’re going to physically be able to go to the trials.’ The doctors didn’t know if I would be back in time… I was facing so much, but I kept going back to when I worked at McDonald’s. I had my goals set and I knew I could do it.”
The athlete pushed herself to follow her Olympic dreams. Throughout her time while trying to train, she recorded a series of positive affirmations and posted them on her TikTok page.
When it was time to try out for the Olympics, she did a long-jump personal best of 6.96 meters, securing her spot on the Team USA roster.
“Knowing that I’m representing us in Tokyo is just a blessing, it’s an honor and I’m so proud of the other Olympians,” she told CBS News-19. “It all starts with your confidence within. Everything I’ve become is because of my mindset and determination…It’s been a journey and it all started with a little girl working at McDonald’s and here I am.”
Even if Quanesha doesn’t win a medal in Tokyo, the Olympian still hopes her legacy of hard work and determination will inspire other up-and-coming athletes to continue until they achieve their dreams.