Junior Olympian balances life as teen & athlete


Photo courtesy of Juliana Martinez

Sophomore Juliana Martinez

started taking part in the Junior

Olympics when she was only

13-years-old. Juliana competed in the

200-meter and 800-meter hurdles,

helping her team get to 7th place in

the Junior Olympics in her second

year. Juliana does more than run

though — she also plays basketball

and volleyball.

“I put in more work, and I always

try to get one-on-one coaching,”

Martinez said.

Sports came with responsibilities

and restrictions at a young age,

forcing Juliana to stay focused.

“I had a diet, and all my focus

was on running. I couldn’t be a

normal teenager,” Martinez said. “It

felt good because not a lot of people

are able to qualify in the Junior


Juliana qualified for the Junior

Olympics by doing well in the meter


“I didn’t plan to go to the Junior

Olympics because I didn’t know that

was a thing, and there was a race that

got you into it if you did good, and

my coach told me I should try it,”

Martinez said.

She did not get there alone,

however, she had motivation and help

along the way.

“My coach helped me get into the

Junior Olympics. Coach D pushed me

to get me better in 7th grade when

I was running for cross country,”

Martinez said.

Her coach helped by encouraging

her to participate in different events:

the 800-hurdle and the 200-meter


“It was more fast-paced and more

intense with the short distance than

cross country,” Martinez said.

Her experience there was also

different because of a much bigger


“Being out there in front of a huge

crowd was very different because it

was much bigger than what I was used

to,” Martinez said.

Juliana plans on going back this

year to Virginia where the race is held,

and this time she’ll be more ready.

“I plan on going this year, my

sophomore year, back to the Junior

Olympics,” Martinez said.