The Junior Olympian

Alejandro de Bastos qualified for the Junior Olympics in the 2,000 meter steeplechase.

Lindsey Smith, Arts & Entertainment


     Alejandro de Bastos can run a sub five minute mile, finish a 5k (3.1 miles) in well under 20 minutes, and run in the 2,000 meter steeplechase, further qualifying him for the Junior Olympics. But, as Alejandro puts it, “…another obstacle is probably homework.” And, how does an almost Olympian have time for  homework? Despite all this, he answers every question with a slight smile and a shrug of his shoulders. Humility is what sets him apart. 

     “My biggest obstacle is probably injuries because they really set you back and delay your training, they also cause you to miss meets and important practices…” After missing much of the 2022 spring track season with shin splints, Alejandro went on to compete in the final races and qualified for both districts and regionals. He competed in summer track and stood out in the steeplechase which led to his qualifying in the Junior Olympics. Approximately one week before Alejandro was set to depart for North Carolina, he injured his achilles, hurting his chances at competing in the Junior Olympics altogether. 

   The qualifying race was supposed to be for fun. “It was a Sunday, I think. I had just ran the 1500 the day before and I was a little tired, but I wasn’t really nervous for the race since I was doing it just for fun…” Alejandro described the moments before lining up for the 2,000 meter steeplechase race. “I got there and the steeplechase event was the first or second race. I warmed up and then we took the field. There were only about 6 boys and we were able to watch the girls race…Then they moved the hurdles up.” Alejandro had never practiced with the steeples as high as they were set on the track that day. The runners lined up at the start line and waited for the sound to signify the beginning. 

   The race started and immediately one runner jumped to the front. That was okay for Alejandro, the race was purely for a fun experience. At the first water jump Alejandro had difficulties and was forced to use his hands to break his fall; the water portion of the race was completely new to him. As the race continued Alejandro began to get the hang of the water jump and he held onto second place. That is, until the second to last lap. “I passed my dad and he yelled that if I was going to catch [the runner in first] I had to go now. I started speeding up and once we entered the last lap I was only a few meters behind him. With about half a lap to go I made a move and passed him. I gave whatever I had left to try and maintain the lead so he wouldn’t catch me until the finish line.” Alejandro placed first and had qualified for the Junior Olympics with that very race. 

   Even despite the injury preventing him from running, Alejandro remains in high spirits and has ambitious goals for the school year and for life. “My goals for school this year are to maintain good grades. For my sport I would like to achieve a low 15 minute 5K and for track season something near 4:10 for the mile. My goals in life are to be able to commit to a good university and run for it, and pursue a good career. Then maybe after, I’ll  keep running as my career.” He started running at age eight and has enjoyed it ever since; it is his decompression. “I enjoy running because when I’m running it’s like a way to get away from school and everything. It’s like you forget about everything that’s going on. It’s also a way to be able to hang out with my friends because I get to see them basically every day after school and… yeah.” He finished. 

   His answers are simple and yet his times are anything but. He is known not only for his impeccable times, but for his comedy and humility. Although balancing homework, school, and practice can be difficult, Alejandro still somehow manages to get it done–all with a slight smile or witty comeback at the ready.