Jumping to New Heights: Newington native Duncan takes home gold at AAU Junior Olympics

Published on Wednesday, 9 August 2017 21:07


NEW BRITAIN - When D’Asia Duncan jumps, she wins.

At just 9 years old, the Newington native has already accomplished more than many kids twice her age.

Fresh off a trip from Detroit, where she competed in the AAU Junior Olympics, Duncan returned home with a number of awards and accolades. She now holds a national title in the high jump and won three national medals, one being gold. In 2017 alone, Duncan is a five-time All-American - twice in indoor and three times in outdoor.

“It was amazing,” Duncan said of her trip to Detroit. “Getting first and getting those medals was amazing. I was so excited. I couldn’t believe it.”

At the Junior Olympics, Duncan placed sixth in the triathlon, seventh in the long jump and first in the high jump - both in the regular event and in the triathlon - setting a new personal record by reaching 3 feet, 11¼ inches.

“I was so excited,” Duncan said. “When I cleared the bar, I literally did a little jump and in my head, I was just screaming ‘yay.’”

And she has accomplished all this just a year into the sport thanks to what she describes as a combination of focusing in track practice and listening to her coaches and mother, Marilyn Scott.

Duncan’s success in track can be traced back further. She began with gymnastics when she was just 6 months old, has done karate, soccer, cheerleading and been a platinum-award winning dancer, as well as being involved in acting and with her school government.

But it was track that ultimately drew her interest and she went to Scott, telling her she wanted to do something with running.

“I ran at home, we have a straightaway sidewalk,” Duncan said. “I ran against my brothers (she has two older ones) and I sometimes beat them.”

That led Scott to do research, looking for track clubs for her daughter to join. The end result was Duncan joining up with the Central CT Jaguars based out of Bloomfield. The competition has not stood much of a chance since.

Last year, after impressing at the Nutmeg Games, Duncan and Scott went out to Sacramento for the UASTF National Junior Olympics.

“It’s been a humbling experience,” Scott said. “I have to give glory to a higher power. I always wanted my kids to be involved in different sports. My parents couldn’t sacrifice financially, so for my kids to have this opportunity is great. I always make sure out of competition she’s friends with a lot of people. I don’t push her, she wants to do it.”

When Duncan first started, it was the sprinting events that caught her attention. That soon changed slightly when she showed a natural ability in the high jump. It became part of her repertoire for meets from there on out.

“I was doing the 200, 400 and 800,” Duncan said. “And one event we got to pick whatever we wanted, so I picked the heptathlon. The first time I high jumped I got a 3-6 scissor kicking it.”

And even at a young age, she makes sure to put in the extra time needed to perfect her craft. When not at track practice, Duncan will utilize the trampoline she has in her backyard to her advantage.

“I run exactly like I do in meets,” she said. “I jump onto the trampoline, avoiding the blue on the edge.”

Duncan also has big dreams. She wants to compete in the Olympics one day (as long as she does her best and continues to work hard, she prefaces). That means more track meets in the future. But as always, grades come first.

“The next thing she’s focused on is academics,” Scott said. “She gets homeschooled in the summer. She’ll still do her conditioning for track and do some gymnastics, but the next couple of months will be about school. She gets straight A’s and B’s.”

Whether in the classroom or on the track, Duncan certainly has a bright future ahead. The best part, she has only just begun.

David Glovach can be reached at (860)801-5085 or dglovach@newbritainherald.com

On Twitter: @DavidGlovach

Posted in New Britain Herald, General Sports, Newington on Wednesday, 9 August 2017 21:07. Updated: Wednesday, 9 August 2017 21:09.