Vincentian Olympian Shafiqua Maloney’s journey to University of Arkansas

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Vincentian Olympian Shafiqua Maloney runs the Women’s 800m race.
University of Arkansas

After recently winning the University of Arkansas Invitational Women 800 meters at the Randal Tyson Track Center, Vincentian Olympian Shafiqua Maloney has been telling Caribbean Life of her journey thus far.
Maloney, who was born on Feb. 27, 1999, hails from Richland Park in the Marriaqua Valley in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
She first attended the Thomas Saunders Secondary School (TSSS) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the first school in the nation to participate in the illustrious Penn Relays at the Franklin Field Stadium at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Marloney said she then transferred to the Verchilds High School in St. Kitts and Nevis for the last three years of high school.
Afterwards, she attended Southern Illinois University Carbondale and then transferred to the University of Arkansas in 2018, where she is now coached by Chris Johnson.
“Being on an athletic scholarship has been a big blessing for me,” she said. “I was able to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Geography, and now I am doing my master’s in operations management.
“The University of Arkansas has gone above and beyond to ensure I have all the resources to be as successful as I can be on and off the track,” Maloney added. “Words cannot begin to describe how grateful and appreciative I am that they gave me an athletic scholarship, not just to be a better athlete and person.”
She said winning the 800 meters at the SEC championships was “very meaningful to me and my coach.
“It was one of the goals we had together and worked towards,” Maloney said. “When I first got to Arkansas, as competitive as the SEC was and continues to be, I did not think I had what it took to be an SEC champion in anything.
“But I now, I know that anything is possible once you work hard and believe in yourself,” she added.
In the 800m in the SEC Championship, Maloney crossed the finish line in 2:08.60 ahead of Isabel Van Camp, also of Arkansas, in 2:13.75, and Je-Risa James of Ark-Pine Bluff, in 2:22.77.
The local VINCENTIAN newspaper said Maloney was also part of the Arkansas triumphant 4X400m relay team in a time of 3:34.79.
“The Vincentian lass ran the third leg, and her team mates were Paris Peoples (first leg), Morgan Burks Magee (second leg) and Rosey Effiong (final leg),” the paper said.
It said Maloney’s efforts also helped Arkansas to finish top in the women’s team points standing with a total of 228 points in the 16-event Meet.
Maloney was the Olympic flag bearer in the Tokyo Olympics. She is the national record holder in the 800m for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Visit this link to watch the Women 800m Final | SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships 2022: https://youtu.be/F9AKl0Qpv8Q
“The University of Arkansas has come to be my home away from home, and I could not have asked for a better place to finish out the rest of my collegiate career,” Maloney told Caribbean Life.
Vincentian James Cordice, the Philadelphia-based pioneer and coordinator of Vincentian and Belizean athletes participating in the Penn Relays, said on Sunday that Maloney was “a baby” when she first participated in the Penn Relays as a member of TSSS female squad – “really young.”
“From the outset, I saw strength, confidence and a thirst for competition,” Cordice told Caribbean Life. “She did well in her heats and continued to beat up the tracks in SVG (St. Vincent and the Grenadines), Barbados and St. Kitts-Nevis, to name a few.”
In her athletic journey, Cordice said Maloney was coached by many, including the SVG Penn Relays inaugural coach, Godfrey “Lion Heart” Harry, currently TSSS’ coach.
Cordice said that when Maloney left St. Vincent and the Grenadines to attended high school in St. Kitts and Nevis, “her thirst to accomplish both in on and off the track was obvious.
“With her vigor, Team SVG 4×4 Team captured gold at CARIFTA,” he said. “She went on to obtain a scholarship to attend college in the USA. She destroyed a few records, then brought me to tears when I saw her carrying the SVG national flag at the Olympics.
“I still remember our conversation after the Olympics when she thought that she didn’t do well,” Cordice added. “I still remember saying to her, ‘the fact that you were running with the best in the world is enough for now, but we will show them next time.’
“Then, she became the 2022 Indoor 800m Champion,” he added. “Look out world, we are coming.”

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