INKSTER, Mich. – Anavia Battle’s dream began when she hit the track in seventh grade.
At the time, her idols included Flo-Jo, Carmelita Jeter and Allyson Felix. About a decade later, Battle is now on the same team as Felix and making her own run for the podium.
The Inkster native is in Tokyo, training to run the women’s 200 meters.
“It feels good,” Battle said. “It feels good to be a part of something bigger.”
The 22-year-old track star at Ohio State University credits her family for her success.
“It feels good to have such an amazing team to always have someone to fall back,” Battle said. “If I need to talk before I run or I need to cry before I run, I just give them a ring. Give my mom a call then vent to her and give the things that I need to get off my chest, so it feels good. They always have my back regardless of what it is.”
“Words can’t describe how proud of her I am,” said her mother, Antoinette Booce-Battle. “She’s just went beyond everything that we ever imagined.”
Getting to the Olympics has been Battle’s dream since she was in middle school.
“My grandma always told me, ‘If you’re going to do something, make sure you’re the best at it and do your best,’” Battle recalled. “I’ve just been keeping her word.”
Her grandmother died this past year due to heart failure.
“My grandparents, my grandmother were the biggest motivation for the things I did,” Battle said. “Even when I went out myself, I would come to her. She would tell me, ‘Do you think God put you in this position? To see you fail? I don’t think so.’”
When it’s race time, she said it’s her grandfather’s voice in her head.
“He would referring to my anxiety as butterflies,” Battle said. “He told me to use your butterflies to float across the track. So I say that on the starting line.”
She is overcoming those butterflies in a big way. Battle was the 2021 Big Ten outdoor champion in both 100 and 200 meters. When she came to the Olympic trials, she found herself face-to-face with a childhood role model as she was running in the lane next to five-time Olympian Allyson Felix -- and finished ahead of her.
“Who would have ever thought I would have been in this position with Alice? Because once I looked up to her and now we’re on the same team,” Battle said.
Now that she’s made it to the Olympics, Battle has a new dream she to chase.
“Getting to the Olympics was the initial goal. Now that I’m actually here, I have a goal on top of that goal,” Battle said. “I would like to make the podium, top three. I’ll be excited about it.”
Battle’s Olympic competition airs Sunday.