Zion Lewis ’20 posted a record-breaking performance last weekend at the 2020 Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor Track and Field Championships at Cornell, capturing the triple jump title at 44-1.25 and setting the all-time Ivy League, school and facility mark. This result also put Lewis eighth in the NCAA rankings for the triple jump. The track and field star continued to perform at an impressive level in other events, taking fourth in both the long jump and the 60-meter race. Lewis’ stellar results earned her the honor of Most Outstanding Field Performer of the meet.
Before coming to Brown, Lewis attended Creekview High School in Canton, Georgia, where she captured the 2016 Georgia State Championship in the triple jump. For her outstanding performance in Ithaca, Lewis has been named The Herald’s Athlete of the Week.
Herald: How did it feel when you won the triple jump event and set the Ivy League record?
Lewis: I was very shocked … almost overwhelmed with emotion. A lot of times, people were confused when they saw me step on the runway because I am very short in comparison to the other athletes, so it was always said that it would be hard for me to do the triple jump. So at that moment, I was overwhelmed because I was finally able to prove to myself that I can do it.
When did you start competing in track and field?
I started in eighth grade — nothing too serious. I did a little bit of running; I did the hundred (meter race) and the two hundred (meter race) as well. It wasn’t until high school that I joined the track and field team … and started taking it a little more seriously. I actually grew up as a competitive gymnast and stopped (gymnastics) in ninth grade and switched over to track.
Did you find that your improvement in high school was linked to specific coaches?
I practiced with my high school team and I also practiced with an outside team called (Revolutionary Sprint Speed). I had an outside coach … we had a really strong bond, and we still do to this day. He was a really amazing influence in my life.
Were there any specific obstacles within your sport that you overcame to reach this point?
There are always ups and downs. I think that for me, especially, I had to learn the feeling of failure and defeat in order to motivate me to achieve the feeling of success.
Do you have any specific role models or professional athletes who have inspired you?
I don’t know about a specific professional athlete, but I do have role models. Definitely my mother … for driving me to track practices in high school and being my emotional support system. And of course, my coaches, specifically (Assistant Coach for Jumps and Multis) Ken Hunt. He has been very inspirational and always has the right thing to say. Before I took that last jump (over the weekend), he looked at me and was like, “This is your last jump, we are either going to go to Nationals or you’re going to die trying.” I took that with me and stepped on the runway and went for the jump.
Did you have any specific goals for your track and field career at Brown?
Not necessarily, I am not someone who sets super specific goals for myself. I like to focus on the competitive aspect of it, really going out there and just trying my best. And I think I’m competitive with myself in the sense that if I jump one mark or ever run one mark, I want to go back there and beat that mark.
Are there any routines that you do before competition?
It really depends, but I like to listen to music. I might listen to some pump-up songs or a motivational speech. I also like to meditate and visualize myself — not necessarily a specific number or mark but what I would like to execute in a race or a jump.
Do you have any post-college plans or aspirations?
I will be working in finance … I am a political science major so this is kind of a new realm for me. I have done an internship (in finance) already, and it was challenging because it is outside of my general domain and field of study. I am going to be in New York.
This article has been edited for length and clarity.