A’Jani Stokes is the fastest kid at GTMO.
A ninth grade student at W.T. Sampson School at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, A’Jani is unlike any other athlete who competed in the AAU Cross Country National Championships in Tallahassee, Florida on Dec. 5.
Still just 14 years old and in the midst of his first year of high school, A’Jani holds the unofficial title as the fastest youth athlete in one of the most notable military detention camps in the world.
His father Rodney, who spent 20 years serving his country in the United State Navy, is stationed in Cuba as a kitchen manager for the Navy base’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) department. His mother Ericka works for the Navy Exchange as a Human Resources Assistant.
Located on the southeastern coast of Cuba about 400 miles from the mainland United States, Guantanamo Bay Naval Station is the oldest overseas U.S. Naval Base in the world. More than 10,000 people – 4,000 of whom are members of the U.S. military – reside on the island, unable to leave the base and confined to roughly 45 square miles.
Given the small population of children on the island, the base offers limited opportunities for youth sports programs. Sports teams often play against groups of local firefighters and hospital workers and avid runners like A’Jani compete in road races – community runs from 3-kilometers to 10-kilometers – against well-conditioned members of the U.S. military.
“There’s really not a big running group [for kids in Cuba],” his father Rodney said. “The only competitive training he gets is through community runs and 5Ks on the base.”
Even before Cuba, though, A’Jani has left his footprints all over the world.
He was born in Sasebo, Japan and developed his passion for running in Naples, Italy. Joining his parents on military assignments across the world, A’Jani has also trained – mostly self-coached – in Lisbon, Portugal; Norfolk, Virginia and Jacksonville, Florida.
Throughout each stop, running has remained a constant.
“[A’Jani] is a winner in his family’s eyes and to many people on this base,” his mother Ericka said. “He has found something that he loves and he has not let these obstacle get in his way.”
A’Jani continued: “I work hard every day just to try to get [to AAU Cross Country Nationals] and do my best.”
A’Jani, his brother Rayshawn and Rodney made the trek to Tallahassee for AAU Cross Country Nationals earlier this month. Accustomed to running in the sweltering Cuban heat, A’Jani pushed through the cooler weather in Tallahassee to finish with a time of 14:23.72 in the Boys 13-14 year-old 4K.
For more information about the event, visit www.aauathletics.org.
Number of views (7848) Comments (0)
National Youth Track Coaches Association and AAU Track & Field Alliance
Inaugural AAU Pacific Rim Basketball Championships
HONOLULU, Hawaii (July 3, 2017) - The inaugural AAU Pacific Rim Basketball Championships hosted by Jam On It were a success.
RECAP: 2017 AAU Gymnastics Age Group National Championship
AAU leaders to attend National Council of Youth Sports Sports Day
AAU Club Championships & AAU Primary Nationals Recap
The AAU Primary Nationals and AAU Club Championships came to a close this past weekend.
MORE THAN 5,500 ELITE ATHLETES SET TO TIP OFF IN ORLANDO AT THE AAU 16U-18U BOYS' BASKETBALL NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
More Than 15,000 Participants Head to Detroit for 18 Sports Competitions at the AAU Junior Olympic Games Beginning Next Week
Athletes from 45 states expected to compete in largest multi-sport event in the country; 10-day competition has brought more than $50 million to previous host cities since 2010
Amateur Athletic Union, USA Pickleball Association to Host First Large-Scale Youth Pickleball Event at 2017 AAU Junior Olympic Games in Detroit
Largest multi-sport youth event in the country to host exhibition event of unique paddle sport; AAU, USA Pickleball Association aim to provide more competitive opportunities in the sport for youth athletes
Boo Williams Exposure Showcase II
AAU Junior Olympic Games - Swimming
AAU Junior Olympic Games - Sport Stacking
15U/9th Grade DIII National Championship
2017 SELRR-Area 11 Primary Track and Field Invitat
East Coast Girls Basketball College Coaches Showca
Mid Valley Swim League Championships
P.G.F. Shootout Camp
AAU Nevada Police & Fit