‘Whatever you set your mind to’: Quanesha Burks trains for second Summer Olympics in 2024

“When they say it’s like a village, Hartselle is a village. Growing up as a small hometown, but with big hearts.”
WAFF 48's Georgia Chambers brings us the story of a Hartselle-raised Olympian
Published: Feb. 16, 2023 at 4:54 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - For Quanesha Burks, her first love was basketball, but Hartselle Track and Field gave her the opportunity to do something that no one else in her family had ever done: go to college.

“You would think I wasn’t a two-parent household,” Burks said. “I didn’t have a lot of support when it comes to family or someone in my family to pave the way to go to college. It was me, the one breaking those generational curses and taking the step out. I have two little sisters who look up to me, and I want them to know, ‘You can go to college. You can go to the Olympics. Or whatever you set your mind to.’”

Under Head Coach Kenny Lopez, Burks was an 11-time state champion for the Tigers and landed a scholarship to compete at the University of Alabama.

“Track was for me to stay in shape for basketball until I won state a couple of times, and then I realized I could go to school for this,” Burks said.

Burks was a two-time NCAA Champion and four-time SEC Champion for the long jump at Alabama. After a successful college career, her sights turned to become an Olympian.

What started out as self-affirmations, Burks telling herself that she would be an Olympian during her training, turned into her reality. Burks made Team USA at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.

“One thing I did after making the Olympic team after I received my flowers and my flag, I joined Facebook Live because I wanted the experience to be with my hometown. It was the experience of a lifetime,” Burks said.

Celebrating with her hometown was something that Quanesha didn’t even have to think of doing. It came naturally to her because it’s like family. She described Hartselle as a ‘special community.’

“When they say it’s like a village, Hartselle is a village. Growing up as a small hometown, but with big hearts,” Burks said.

The 2020 Olympic Games were held in 2021 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Burks qualified for the finals at the Tokyo Summer Olympics, but she was the first one out placing 13th.

“Coming up I’m ready. I left with a great season last year of finishing the No. 1 American long jumper and No. 4 in the world. It’s only building up momentum for the Olympic Games because I’m leaving with hardware,” Burks said.

Burks now has her sights set on the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics. As she reflects on her journey so far, she says it hasn’t just been for herself.

“Me making the Olympic team meant so much to me and the young girls, young people of color and just honestly everyone about believing yourself,” Burks said. “It doesn’t matter what situation you’ve been brought into, it’s what you do with it.”

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