At TrackGirlz, our mission is to inspire and empower young girls through the sport of track and field, equipping them with health, academic, and social tools. As part of our commitment, we are excited to launch our “On Track to Paris” series, highlighting remarkable female athletes who embody the spirit of what it means to be a TRACKGIRL. Our next feature in this series focuses on the extraordinary journey of Nia Ali, a remarkable talent and energy.

Ali holds her child, while wrapped in the USA flag

Meet Nia Ali

Nia Ali’s story is one of resilience and determination. Born on October 23, 1988, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Ali discovered her passion for track and field early in life. Growing up in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, she attended West Catholic Preparatory High School. For her senior year, she moved to Pleasantville, New Jersey, and graduated from Pleasantville High School in 2006. Her talent quickly became apparent as she excelled in multiple track and field events.

Collegiate Success and Professional Career

Ali’s collegiate career was marked by significant achievements. Competing for the USC Trojans, she became the 2011 NCAA champion in the 100 meters hurdles with a time of 12.63 seconds, after previously winning the Southeastern Conference heptathlon title while at the University of Tennessee. Her versatility and skill earned her All-American honors in the heptathlon at USC.

Ali’s professional career took off when she won the gold medal in the 100 meters hurdles at the World University Games in Shenzhen, China, with a time of 12.85 seconds. Her ascent continued with a third-place finish at the 2013 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, qualifying her for the World Championships, where she finished tenth in the 100 meters hurdles.

In 2014, Ali claimed her first World Indoor Championship gold in the 60 meters hurdles with a personal best of 7.80 seconds, a feat she repeated in 2016. Her success extended to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where she won the silver medal in the 100 meters hurdles, part of a historic American sweep of the event.

Ali soars over a hurdle

Overcoming Obstacles

While her list of accolades is impressive, Ali’s journey has been far from easy. Balancing her career with motherhood, Ali has shown extraordinary resilience. She took a year off in 2015 to give birth to her son, Titus, and returned stronger than ever, winning gold in the 60 meters hurdles at the 2016 World Indoor Championships just ten months postpartum. She later gave birth to her second child, daughter Yuri, in 2018, and a third, son Kenzo, in 2020.

Despite the challenges of motherhood and the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Ali continued to defy expectations. Her remarkable comeback in 2019 saw her win the gold medal in the 100 meters hurdles at the World Championships in Doha with a personal best of 12.34 seconds.

USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Hayward Field. Ali holds her child and USA flag

Recent Achievements

In 2023, Ali’s career continued to thrive as she claimed national titles as a mother of three. Her focus and determination remain unwavering as she trains for the Paris 2024 Olympics, with the goal of not only competing but excelling on the world stage.

Impact Beyond the Track

Beyond her athletic achievements, Ali exemplifies the qualities that TrackGirlz strives to instill in young girls: hard work, determination, and leadership. Her journey from a high school standout to an Olympian and World Champion serves as a powerful reminder of what can be achieved, no matter the obstacles.

Ali is particularly vocal about the intersection of motherhood and athletics. She believes that being a mother does not have to curtail one’s professional dreams. “I want people to understand you can balance track and motherhood,” Ali has said. “Having a baby doesn’t have to hold you back from achieving your goals.” This perspective is not just theoretical; Ali’s children—Titus, Yuri, and Kenzo—often accompany her at competitions, witnessing first hand their mother’s triumphs and dedication.

Her openness about the challenges and rewards of being a professional athlete and a mother offers invaluable lessons in mental strength. Ali’s journey is a testament to the possibility of balancing elite sports with family life, encouraging young girls and mothers alike to pursue their dreams regardless of societal expectations.

Ali crosses the finish line

Nia’s Vision for the Future

As Nia Ali prepares for the Paris 2024 Olympics, her focus is clear. Her journey embodies the values we hold dear and aim to instill in all girls: the significance of health, academic excellence, and social empowerment through track and field.

We are honored to highlight her in our “On Track to Paris” series and eagerly anticipate cheering her on as she pursues making yet another Olympic team.