Northwest Assistant Track Coach Set to Compete in Rio Olympics
Northwest High School’s assistant track and field coach, Thea LaFond is in Rio de Janeiro preparing to compete in the Triple Jump competition as one of just two members of the Olympic team from the small island nation of Dominica.
LaFond will begin competition in the Triple Jump at 8:40 am on Saturday, August 13.
A Silver Spring resident, who attended John F. Kennedy High School where she was talked into joining the track team. At first, she thought she’d be a distance runner, but Coach Kevin Monroe suggested she watch what the runners who were doing hurdles were doing and that began LaFond’s jumping career. A career that would lead to a spot on the University of Maryland track team and eventually to the women’s triple jump competition at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
According to her current boss, Northwest’s Head Track & Field Coach Robert L. Youngblood, “Coach Monroe hired me as an assistant coach Thea’s senior year, and she started working with me on jumps and hurdles. He’d already laid the ground work and look at her now.”
Youngblood said that while she is only competing in one event in Rio, she has been a multi-event athlete. While at Kennedy High School, LaFond was Maryland State 3A Outdoor champion in the 100 hurdles, the high jump, the long jump, and the triple jump. She also held Indoor titles in the 55 hurdles and the high jump. It was in high school when she learned that due to her dual citizenship, she could compete for Dominica.
While at the University of Maryland, LaFond left her mark on both the indoor and outdoor record books. On the indoor side; she earned the University’s all-time best time in the 60-meter hurdles (8.38), the fourth-best high jump (6 feet 3/4 inch), the third-best long jump (20 feet 3 inches), and second-longest triple jump (43 feet 6.5 inches), and her score of 4,222 points is good for the Terps' second-best all-time score in the pentathlon. LaFond was named BIG TEN Athlete of the Week in January 2015.
On the outdoor side; she earned the University’s fourth-time best time in the 100-meter hurdles (13. 89), tied for the fourth-best high jump (6 feet 3/4 inch), tied for seventh-best long jump (20 feet 1.75 inches), and longest triple jump (44 feet 2.75 inches.
LaFond has been coaching at Northwest for one year after graduation from the University of Maryland in the spring of 2015. “She would split time between coaching with me at Northwest and training for the Olympics. She worked very hard to make her marks get into the Olympics and now she is representing her country.” Youngblood said that LaFond called him last summer and told him that she wanted to try to give back some of the things that she’d learned about track and field over the years. “She had just graduated from Maryland, and we decided to coach together.”
During her first year at Northwest, she’s helped coach the Jaguars boys track team to a third straight 4A Indoor Track & Field State Championship, and the Jag’s girls’ team to a second-place finish at the 4A Indoor Track & Field State Championships. LaFond has also helped coach the Northwest Boys Track and Field team to the 2016 4A Outdoor Championship.
Top: Thea LaFond competes with the University of Maryland.
Next: The two members of the Olympic team representing Dominica, Thea LaFond and Yordanis Durañona García, a Cuban-born triple jumper, who will be competing in the men’s triple jump. From Thea LaFond's Instgram account
Next: LaFond competing for University of Maryland.
Photos Courtesy Maryland Athletics. Used with permission.