For as long as she can remember, Jasmine Quinn has dreamed of performing on the Olympic stage among the world's greatest athletes. But her dream has changed significantly over the years.
Quinn, a senior at Fort Dorchester High School, is arguably the state's top track and field athlete this spring. She ranks as one of the nation's top 100-meter hurdlers, while also competing as one of the state's top sprinters and long jumpers.
Last May, at the Class AAAA state track and field championships, Quinn won gold medals in four events and is aiming for a repeat performance in a few weeks.
However, track is far from being Quinn's first love as an athlete. Beginning at age 3, Quinn excelled in gymnastics, winning several state championships as a youngster. Her initial dream of performing in the Olympics was in gymnastics, not track.
"Gymnastics was my life," Quinn said. "I was a gymnast, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As a young girl, I wanted to be an Olympian. I had dreams of working with the great coaches and performing on that stage."
As she reached middle school, Quinn began to mature physically, growing from five feet tall to 5-8 over the span of two years. As the youngest child of James and Maria Quinn, themselves outstanding track athletes at the former Baptist College (now Charleston Southern), Jasmine was following in the footsteps of two successful brothers.
Oldest brother Robert was an all-state football player and is now an All-Pro defensive end with the St. Louis Rams. Middle child Miguel was a state champion in track and is headed to Winston-Salem State to play football next fall.
James Quinn, who was a nationally ranked hurdler at Baptist College, always knew that his daughter would end up in track, yet he never forced the issue. As Jasmine "grew" out of gymnastics, her natural instincts as an athlete needed something else. That something would be track.
"She ran as an eighth-grader and ran a 15.7 in the 100 hurdles and a 13.1 in the 100. I knew then that she had a great future in track," said James, who serves as her personal hurdles coach and assists with the Fort Dorchester team. "She always was a natural athlete, very blessed. She has always had a great work ethic at whatever sport she was involved in. I'm not surprised at her success because she is pretty driven to be the best."
The road has been far from easy, however. Quinn struggled with painful shin splints early on in her career. She missed her entire sophomore season due to injury but worked hard to recover and burst on to the national scene as a junior.
Those Olympic dreams remain for Quinn, only now she has her sights set on track. She recently signed to run at the University of Kentucky, where she is likely to focus on her best event, the 100-meter hurdles.
She continues to perform as one of the state's top sprinters, but does have some solid competition in Class AAAA. She also rates as one of the top high jumpers, but has very little competition in the hurdles, where her time of 13.33 seconds this spring is easily the best in the state.
While she is aiming for a repeat performance of the success in last year's state meet, Quinn is focused more on being at her best on the state's biggest stage.
"Winning four is a goal and that would be great, but really I am setting a goal of a personal best in each event," said Quinn. "I love winning and I know people have high expectations for me. But my expectations are bigger. I want to be the best I can be every time I compete.
"I feel great. I feel like I'm on pace. I am getting better each week. It's very tough sometimes to do four events. It can be quite tiring. But I do it because I love it. And I just want to enjoy these last few weeks in high school as much as I can."
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