Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Three elementary-age Pelham siblings achieve national rankings in track and field events

Yanick Walker

Three elementary-age Pelham siblings have achieved national rankings in track and field events.

Yanick Walker, the oldest at nine, is third in the nation in his age group for the 400-meter sprint with a time of 1:04.86, said mother Chanell Smith Bradford, a coach for NRG Track Club, which her children run for. He is also tenth in the U.S. in the 200 meters with a time of 27.94.

When Yanick Walker was seven years old, he qualified for the Junior Olympics, and he has continued to qualify each year including this one.

Eight-year-old Yale Walker is fifth ranked nationally for his age in the 800 meters with a time of 2:45, while Yara Bradford, age five, is fifth in the nation for the long jump with a distance of 8 feet and 8.25 inches, said Bradford.

All three children attend Hutchinson Elementary School.

Both parents run, and Bradford was a full scholarship athlete at the University of Connecticut. She is a co-founder of Universal Moms, which operates a running club in Pelham so children can learn the fundamentals.

Initially, the parents signed the three kids up for track in order for them to use their energy and participate in an extracurricular. But their talents soon became clear. The children now practice four days a week and also have daily workouts at home.

Yale Walker

“The children are very disciplined,” Bradford said. While the experience is fun for them to a certain extent, she said, they understand when to put in the hard work.

“Every race my kids compete in, afterwards, you see them give their competitors a high five, whether they win or lose,” said Bradford.

Despite the rigorous training, Bradford makes sure to keep a balance between being her children’s coach and being their mother. She said she often encourages her kids to go to their other coaches with questions, and tries not to bring the results of the meets home by comparing the three with others.

That can be difficult. “You see their potential,” she said. “But they’re so young, so they may not see it yet.”

Yara Bradford

She said it is very rewarding to see not just her children improve, but the whole team. Ideally, she would like to see the entire team at nationals.

Bradford said she plans to start a fundraiser to aid with travel costs so Yanick and Yale Walker can go to the Bermuda Challenge meet in June, as well as Junior Olympic Nationals in North Carolina. She said she hopes the meets will allow them to run alongside people with greater experience.

“It’s a beautiful thing to see my kids be so successful,” Bradford said. “I am willing to do anything and everything to see them successful.”


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Oliver Lavallee, Assistant Managing Editor
Oliver Lavallee is a junior at Pelham Memorial High School. In addition to writing, he enjoys reading, drawing and playing drums.

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