In her senior year at the University of Southern California, sprinter Kendall Ellis became a viral phenom, thanks to her amazing come-from-behind victory in the 4×400 relay at the 2018 NCAA Track & Field Championships.
Now the 23-year-old, who was signed by New Balance in January, is looking to bring that same magic to the IAAF World Championships this week, in Doha, Qatar. “I’m hoping to come out with a PR or a medal, but I definitely want to do better than I did in 2017,” she said.
On the track, Ellis laces up in New Balance’s Sigma Aria spikes, though for training, she opts for the brand’s versatile FuelCell Propel sneakers. “I like a thicker [training] shoe that provides more comfort and support for my feet,” she said.
And at a time when female athletes have begun demanding more from their brand partnerships, Ellis said she chose her sponsor carefully: “I was looking for a brand that would make me feel valued not only as an athlete but as a person — a company that didn’t look at me as someone to make money off of that genuinely cared about me and the things that I want to achieve.”
How I keep myself motivated:
“I remind myself that this is something you’ve wanted for so long and you’ve been working for, and now you’re here. So make the best of it.”
Athletes I admire:
“Allyson Felix is one in the track world. And I’m a really big gymnastics fan, so Aly Raisman. I admire women who use their sport as a platform and as a way to make a bigger and deeper change.”
My message for other young women:
“To have fun. I’ve cheated myself out of a lot of moments in the sport where I should’ve just been enjoying it. It would’ve been a great experience had I taken it for what it was, instead of putting so much added pressure on myself.”
New goals off the track:
“I played piano when I was younger, but I stopped because I got bored. I miss it now so I’m reteaching myself how to play. I’m on a Lizzo kick, learning how to play one of her songs. It’s really hard.”
My everyday shoe style:
“I’m usually in a pair of New Balance 997s. Those are the cutest and I wear them with everything. I have too many to count in a bunch of different colors.”