She’s not quite 5 feet tall. Very soft spoken and one of the sweetest girls you can meet. From St. Lawrence Island in the middle of the Bering Sea, she’s a fierce competitor and has the Bering Strait region proud. Apaay Campbell from Gambell broke a world record Thursday at the Native Youth Olympics in Anchorage.
That’s right. The Bering Strait School District has a world record holder athlete.
The 16-year-old from Gambell shattered the girls’ world kneel jump record by nearly 2 inches. Her final jump at the State Native Youth Olympics in Anchorage hit 55 and a quarter inches, breaking the 20-year-old world record set by Eleanor Matthais at the 1993 NYO Games.
Kneel jump competitors get three chances – or jumps – in competition. Apaay hit 50 inches in her first jump, 53 inches in her second jump and beat the world record in her third jump.
It turns out, Apaay takes after her mother. Sharon Campbell Aningayou was herself the 1994 state gold medalist in the kneel jump. She says she couldn’t stop smiling all day on Thursday after learning her daughter now holds the record in her event. Apaay beat the record set her mother’s high school competitor
Apaay says before arriving in Anchorage, she didn’t think she could beat the NYO record. But her mother – who is also her coach – knew she could.
And her best has her named as the world record holder in the kneel jump. Apaay says in her third and final jump, she had a huge adrenaline rush. She had just hit 53 inches in her second jump – a half an inch away from the world record. She knew then she could jump farther. And she did. Apaay is in 10th grade and still has two more years to compete in the Native Youth Olympics.
Nick Hanson – one of Apaay’s former state coaches says this is Apaay’s 4th gold medal in the kneel jump and people stop to watch her in competition. He says it’s powerful watching Apaay compete at the games.
The 2013 State NYO games continue Saturday in Anchorage.