Candace Hill is 16, in high school, lives in Atlanta and ran 100 meters in 10.98 seconds to earn herself a professional agreement. Not a bad day’s work for the high schooler in addition to her straight A’s and 4.6 GPA.
With the time of 10.98, Hill has a time good enough to qualify for the Rio Olympics and perhaps win a medal there. She also has cashed in at age 16 to become the youngest track athlete in the United States to turn professional.
“I don’t know how fast I can go, I don’t try to think limits. Whenever I run…I run.” – Candace Hill
Not only has the young Georgia native earned the title of “fastest high school girl ever,” but she consistently earns straight A’s and a 4.6 GPA on her high school report card, as well as a steady spot on the principal’s honor roll and a class schedule full of Advanced Placement courses.
Fellow runner Allyson Felix turned professional instead of running for the University of Southern California in 2003, going on to become one of the most successful American sprinters in history. Felix remained the only track athlete to bypass college for professional running until a decade later, when the middle-distance runner Mary Cain signed with Nike in 2013 at age 17 before enrolling at the University of Portland. She opened the floodgates.
The allure to skip college for those women that can garner the accomplishments is attractive for three reasons which are money, fame and momentum.
Her potential is considered so outsize that she brokered an unusual arrangement with Asics, a running footwear and apparel company. It will cover full tuition for Hill, who has a 4.6 grade-point average and top-10 class ranking in her magnet school near Atlanta, at any college that admits her. The contract, which at 10 years is also uncommonly long, effectively serves as an athletic scholarship, even though Hill, who plans to attend college while competing, will not be eligible to race collegiately.
“Candace is as good a student as she is an athlete, and we found that intriguing,” said Gene McCarthy, the chief executive of Asics America Group. “For us, she’s a Halley’s comet of sport, a teenager who’s tremendously gifted in both mind and body. With that talent and drive, we’re betting that she can be the fastest woman in the world someday.”
Her career highlights also include:
- 2015 IAAF World Youth Champion, 100m
- 2015 IAAF World Youth Champion, 200m
- National High School Record Holder, 100m
- American Junior Record Holder, 100m
- World Youth Record holder, 100m
- World Youth Record holder, 200m
- 2015 Georgia High School State Champion, 100m and 200m
- 2014 Georgia High School State Champion, 100m and 200m
- 2014 Golden West Champion, 100m and 200m
The looming Olympic trials, to be held next July in Eugene, Oregon, have expedited the timeline for turning professional because of the training and financial benefits such status confers. Hill is the youngest track athlete to qualify for the United States trials in both the 100 and 200 meters, and has logged the eighth-fastest time by an American woman in the 100 this year.