It was easy to recognize DeWitt Clinton’s Aaliyah Wajid when she crossed the finish line in first place at the Mayor’s Cup competition race at Van Cortlandt Park on Saturday.
Not only was the diminutive freshman far ahead of the rest of the pack in her race, but she was wearing a gold, sequined scarf on her head, adoring her short dreadlocks.
“My grandmother gave it to me,” said Wajid. “It is the first time I have worn it in a race.”
Clinton track coach Cornel Johnson calls Wajid “a coaches dream,” and was confident enough to enter her in the girls’ varsity race with older runners, rather than in the freshman heat.
The decision paid off. Wajid won the varsity race against the older girls with her time of 16:04.96.
“I like the competition,” she said “It’s good to run with the fastest runners because you get better.”
Her father, Qaasim Wajid, said that running has been a consistent part of his family’s history.
“My grandmother, mother, aunt and brother and sister are all into running,” said the proud papa.
The father characterized his daughter’s success as “pure blue collar,” adding, “it’s a lot of hard work, hard training.”
Though she is quiet and unassuming, Wajid has high aspirations for her running.
“I think I might want to go to the Olympics,” she said.
Her coach doesn’t rule it out.
“Anything is possible,” said Johnson. “If she stays as focused as she is and continues to work hard.”