Track and field star Akela Jones chases Olympic dreams

K-State Athletics Communications and K-State Alumni Communications 

Senior Akela Jones continues to break records in track and field competitions as she pursues her Olympic dreams. (Photo: K-State Athletics Communications)

Every time Akela Jones competes, records are broken. 

That’s a fact the Kansas State University track and field team has come to take for granted. The senior from St. Michael, Barbados, seems to set a new record every time she hits the track, and she drew national and international attention for her performance at the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, claiming the heptathlon title. Now, she has the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in sight.

“Since I won the NCAA, a lot of eyes are on me, and I still have a lot of training to do,” Jones said. “I still have a lot of learning to do, techniques to improve on. But I just want to go out there and represent K-State.” 

Jones transferred to K-State for the 2014-15 season, where she quickly made a strong impression. She took the 2015 NCAA Championship Heptathlon by storm June 10-11. Although it was only her second time ever competing in the seven-event challenge, she did so nearly flawlessly. In the event’s first day, she broke the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field collegiate record, accumulating 4,023 points after the first four events. Jones’ performance bested three-time Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s previous record of 3,942 points set in 1985. Another strong performance on the event’s second day secured Jones’ first-ever NCAA title, and she became just the sixth Wildcat women’s athlete all-time to win an NCAA title. Jones was named a 2015 Women's National Field Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association and also was the 2015 Big 12 Indoor Outstanding Performer of the Year.

All that success may be a tough act to follow, but Jones is ready for the challenge. She practiced every day during her trip home to Barbados for winter break. That practice paid off — at the Wildcat Invitational, the first event of the year, Jones earned first-place finishes in every event she tackled, breaking both the Wildcat Invitational and the Ahearn Field House facility 60-meter women’s hurdle record. She also was named high-point scorer of the KSU-KU-WSU Showdown later that month.

While there will be plenty of competitions this year to keep Jones busy, the goal waiting at the end is the Summer Olympics, taking place Aug. 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She said qualifying for the Olympics has always been her dream. 

“From the time I realized that I was a little better than average, it was always a dream of mine since I was a little girl,” she said. 

Whether or not her year ends with Olympic gold, Jones said she is thankful for her experience at K-State and how the university has helped her to reach her dream.

“[I came to K-State] because I want to be great,” she said. “Because I want to be the greatest in the world, and I realized that K-State was the place that will make my dreams come true.” 

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