The Washington Post

“I got to meet a lot of new people from different cultures,” Dondre Echols said of his experience at the IAAF world junior championships in Barcelona. (Courtesy of/Dondre Echols)

Dondre Echols, who recently graduated from Potomac (Md.) High, spent July 10-15 at the IAAF world junior championships in Barcelona. The All-Met outdoor track Athlete of the Year was one of only two sprinters representing the U.S. in the high hurdles, and he placed sixth in 13.71. Echols, who is headed to South Carolina next month, was the seventh-fastest junior performer in the world this year. Here are several snapshots of his experience in Spain as told to The Post’s Carl Little.

“On the first day I had a long flight over and I got to meet the team. I felt out of place. The Spanish food at the hotel was not so good. I wasn’t used to it. The main course was fish every day, but they had lamb and rabbit. I didn’t try [rabbit]. Some of my teammates did though.” …

Later on the first day “was really fun. We went to the beach and had a pretty hard practice, plus I got to meet kids from other teams. And I found a Subway [restaurant].” …

On the second day “I didn’t do much. I got to see the track and the competition. Me and my roommate [Joshua Thompson] are very close. He was my host on my visit to [the University of] Pittsburgh. I realized that I’m really running for the U.S. My first race is tomorrow [Monday, July 10 ] and I’m already nervous.” …

“I got first place today in the first round and made it to the semifinals. The competition is great, no [slackers]. I ran 13.7. We were running on a very nice track. It’s where the 1992 Olympics were. It had wide lanes. It was one of the best surfaces I’ve ever run on and we ran at night under the lights. I think the best surface was out in Seattle at Brooks [Invitational in February] . . . The food has gotten better. I’ve been able to find a McDonald’s and a Burger King. It tasted different than home, but it was better than the hotel food.” …

Dondre Echols (right) poses with a teammate at the IAAF world junior championships in Barcelona. (Courtesy of/Dondre Echols)

“I was really pumped up for the final. I wasn’t nervous at all. I was ready to run. As soon as the gun went off I was with everybody. Then I felt like I was going too fast. I hit the hurdle — and then the next hurdle and the next hurdle. I finally got back on track but by then it was too late. I was basically fighting for sixth place and I got it. The guys I was racing, they were my competition but we got to be friends. They want to go to school in the U.S. and they were asking me what they had to do to get recruited. Some of them couldn’t speak English at all so it was hard. I got to meet a lot of new people from different cultures and everything.” …

“I got a big suitcase full of U.S.A. gear.. . .At the end of the meet there’s a tradition where you trade some of your gear and so I got some Bahamas stuff, stuff from China and South Africa. Everybody wanted U.S.A. gear. Some of them couldn’t speak English so they would just point and say ‘t-shirt.’” …

“In my free time I was able to go to the beach, tour the city and go to the mall. I got to use the metro over there. It’s almost the same as here, just a little different. It was hard to get used to the money. I [exchanged] like $180 dollars and I only got about 120 euros. Our money is worth less. I’d say it’s the most fun I ever had in my life when I went over there. I made a lot of friends, people I plan on keeping in touch with.”



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