Most 8-year-old girls are interested in Barbie Dolls, nail polish and Justin Bieber.
But running fast and shot-put is what gets Nataiah Dutrieuille excited.
Since she began running track last year, the eight year-old Edgewood Primary School third grader and Swissvale resident has accrued 16 medals and nine ribbons in the 100 and 200 meter dash and shot-put. Out of 45 eight and under girls, Nataiah is ranked 11th in the nation.
According to Nataiah’s father, Billy Dutrieuille, she competed in the Association Finals held at California University of Pennsylvania and placed second in the 100 and 200 finals and first in the shot-put, advancing on to compete in the Regional finals held in Jamestown, NY.
“She fell short in the finals for the 100 and 200 finishing in sixth place,” her father said. “But she came out soaring in the shot-put finishing in second place, advancing to compete in the Junior Olympics held in Greensboro, N.C. Nataiah started out running the 100 meter dash at 17.4 seconds. Her best time was 15.84. In the 200 meter dash she started at 42.4 seconds her best was 32.46. Her first shot-put mark was 3.67 and in the Nationals her best mark was 4.60. I am so proud that with every track meet she became more and more confident and stronger. What more could I ask for?”
“I like the shot-put because I win and I like track because I get to run fast and I like going faster and faster,” Dutrieuille said.
Dutrieuille’s parents noticed her running ability about two years ago when a dog got loose when her whole family was outside and everyone ran toward the house and Nataiah beat everyone back to the house.
“No one stood a chance,” her mother, Lynette Robertson said with a smile. “She was gone. My uncles were there and they said she ought to run track. We knew she had a little bit of speed but we didn’t know that she would do what she did this season. When I think about what she did I get emotional.”
Nataiah runs for East Allegheny School District and practices at the high school’s track three times a week. Nataiah’s season ended in May. During the off-season she is taking beginner gymnastics at Miller’s Gym in McKeesport for three hours every Saturday.
“We’re looking into getting her a special coach and putting her into fall track so that she can learn how not to get so winded and how to strengthen her shot-put form,” Robertson said. “Being in gymnastics helps her strengthen her legs and arms. Kids nowadays need encouragement and as long as they have someone to support them, it’s no telling how far they’ll do.”
Nataiah comes from good sport stock. Both of her parents ran track and her father also played football Her teenage brother plays basketball and is conditioning for football. Her maternal grandfather is author and welterweight boxer Rev. Sheldon Stoudemire who has won numerous championships.
“I am so proud of her!” Stoudemire said. “It’s amazing what she’s done in such a short amount of time.”
Nataiah plans on continuing her athletic career as she gets older. She hopes to follow in the footsteps of her idol, gymnast Gabrielle Douglas.
“She has won a lot of medals and I want to have a lot of medals,” Nataiah said.
Robertson believes her daughter can reach that dream.
“I see great things for Nataiah. Her form is flawless,” Robertson said. “She’s never been fully trained. Everything she does is fully natural. The sky is the limit for her.”
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