Garrett finishes season at Olympics trials; mom reveals she’s been running with broken foot, tumor

She may not have made the Summer Olympics in Paris, but 2023 Albemarle High School graduate Akala Garrett believes she came out a winner at Sunday’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Eugene, Oregon.
Garrett, a rising sophomore at the University of Texas, placed seventh out of nine in the 400-meter hurdles finals. She placed third in the third heat of the semifinals on Saturday.
“I wanted to prove a point and make the team and although that didn’t happen, I had fun running against many people I have been looking up to my whole life,” Garrett said. “I mean they’ve had long eras, it was just very inspiring to know if I’m on that stage right now as a freshman that the next Olympic trials it will be better for me and I know I’ll do better.”
While she primarily concentrates on the 400-meters, she also runs the 100-meter hurdles.
“Just for Olympic trials I chose one because doing a double is really hard and you mainly choose what you’re best at and I know what my strong suit is — the 400 hurdles,” Garrett said.
She said she was encouraged by hearing from former classmates and their families.
“A lot of my high school teachers were commenting on my posts,” she said. “Even though I haven’t heard from them in a while they were still supporting me. It was just so lovely to see.”
Lasonja Collins, who formerly coached Garrett and is now in the role of mom and personal advisor, said her daughter “had an awesome freshman year.”
“I know she talked about getting the experience, but for me I’m very proud of her because when she got to school we actualy found out that she had fluid around her heart,” Collins said. “She actually had to sit out a couple of meets for indoor season, so she had a rough start staring off, but she still came out and became an indoor conference champion and then went out to outdoor season and won conference also and qualified for the Olympic trials — and in spite of everything that has gone on with her healthwise she’s able to persevere, run a lot of personal bests and run a full season.”
In addition to the setbacks at the beginning of the season, Collins said Garrett recently found she has a benign tumor in her leg. She has been running on a broken foot the entire season, her mom said.
“So for me, even though we didn’t win physically, I feel like we won and we were victorious because we finished what we started. And we set out to go to the Olympic trials her freshman year. We knew it was going to happen, but for her to still be able to perform and make the finals every single round she made it through, in spite of the pain that she was in and didn’t know this was happening to her, didn’t know this was going on, she still persevered,” Collins said.
“I’m very proud and I know for a fact that the next go-round, her being completely healthy is going to be a different story, because you’re able to run three seconds off where the top three were and you were on a broken foot,” she added. “I don’t know many people that’s going to run on a broken foot. She’s very strong. She left a lot of that out there.”
Garrett says she loves Texas and has become used to the heat there. She also loves trying all the new foods.
As for the next competition, she has her eyes set for making it to the world championships next year.
“Thank you guys for all the support. It meant so much,” Garrett said. “I just really thank you guys. I wouldn’t been able to be who I am without being in Albemarle, going to Albemarle. So I really thank you guys.”

B.J. Drye is general manager/editor of The Stanly News & Press. Call 704-982-2123.