Taysia Radoslav’s feet have been on fire for four years.
This fall, the 17-year-old sprinter, hurdler and Cardinal Newman Catholic Secondary School Grade 12 student hopes to light up the track at Cornell University.
Radoslav, who has earned almost 40 medals at indoor and outdoor events as well as maintained an honours student average over the past four years, has received a bursary for her athletic and academic achievements to the Ivy League university in Ithaca, N.Y., where she will compete as a member of the women’s track and field team as well as study animal sciences.
“I’m really excited to have this opportunity, both athletically and academically,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to being a part of the team as well as working with a new coach. I’m excited to see what I can offer to Cornell and what the university can offer to me.”
Radoslav began competing as a member of Cardinal Newman’s track and field team in Grade 9.
She earned the Junior Athlete of the Year Award and has gone on to garner Most Valuable Player honours the past four years, having scored a bronze medal in the 400-metre sprint and gold in the 300-metre hurdles at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) championships in 2012.
Radoslav, who has been a member of the Burlington Track and Field Club and now trains with Monte Cristo Track Club, also earned a gold medal in the 300-metre hurdles at the national championships in 2012 and was a silver and bronze medalist for the 400-metre hurdles in the junior and senior categories at the provincial championships in 2013.
In addition, she is a record holder in Ontario for the indoor four-by-200-metre relay in the youth category and is ranked No. 2 in Canada for the 400-metre hurdles in her age division.
Radoslav also is ranked No. 1 in Canada for the 300-metre sprint, having started her indoor season competitions earlier this month. She raced her way to a personal best time of 40.34 to place first on Jan. 18 at the Fred Foot Classic meet at the University of Toronto.
“I’ve enjoyed a number of highlights over the years, but my favourite moment would probably be winning gold in the 300-metre hurdles at OFSAA in 2012,” Radoslav said. “I think that was the first year I began running 300-metre hurdles. I started with a time of 49 (seconds) and ended up running a 43 – I ended up beating six seconds off my time – so I really surprised myself that year.”
When Radoslav is not busy training or participating in events she’s got her head in the books.
She also works part time at Goodlife Fitness and Pet Vet Eastside Hospital as a vet assistant.
Radoslav said she tries her best to balance everything.
“It’s really hard, but a lot of it is focusing and using my time wisely, especially in class and even at home too,” she said. “When I go home from school, I eat, get ready for track, go to track and then come home and it’s about 8 p.m. I do my homework, go to bed and then wake up and do it all over again, but it’s certainly worth all the effort and time.”
Radoslav’s hard work on and off the track definitely didn’t go unnoticed.
She received full scholarship offers from several Ivy League and Division One universities in the United States and also was pursued by a number of universities in Ontario.
Radoslav said Cornell University first approached her in 2012.
“They began talking to me back in Grade 10 when I won OFSAA – their rules are a bit different than the NCAA – so they could start talking to me first,” Radoslav said. “I had a recruitment visit, I think it was in the beginning of October, and loved it; I just fell in love with Cornell as soon as I got there. I applied for early acceptance or early decision as soon as I got home because I just knew that’s where I wanted to go.”
Radoslav’s bursary will cover all of her expenses for four years.
“It’s an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m so grateful for that opportunity and looking to make the best of it,” she said. “I really hope to break the freshmen record for possibly the 300-metre sprint and 400-metre hurdles because my times now are really close to their freshmen records there. I’m also really looking forward to studying animal sciences at their College of Agriculture and Life Sciences as my goal is to become a veterinarian.”
Radoslav said she’s excited to begin the next chapter of her life, but is focused on finishing her career as a member of Cardinal Newman’s track and field team on a high note.
“I’m hoping to medal at OFSAA in June,” Radoslav said. “I want to win for the 400-metre hurdles. I want to score gold for my school.”
Radoslav said looking back at the starting line, she never imagined she’d do as well as she has on the track.
“As soon as I started track, I knew that I was going to stay with it. It was something that I just fell in love with and certainly, I loved racing, I loved practising, but it’s something that you have to be completely committed to,” she said. “I completely devoted myself to track and ever since then, I’ve just surprised myself each year with my results and now I’m going to Cornell. You can’t beat that.”