The sprinter talks to CHICA about her next Olympic appearance, which was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Por Alma Sacasa
Julio 29, 2020
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OLIVIER MORIN/AFP via Getty Images

From a young age, Los Angeles native Carol Rodriguez was always running. "When I was in elementary school, they would have a 50-meter or 50-yard dash at recess time, and I would race the kids just for fun," she tells People CHICA. "I ended up being the fastest kid in school out of the boys and the girls."

Now, her fast pace has earned her multiple records in Puerto Rico and two Olympic appearances. "When I set the record, I didn't necessarily go out trying to set the record — I just went out trying to run my best race and win another title," she shares. "I ended up setting the national record for all six races. It made me feel really great to be able to show honor to Puerto Rico."

Her passion for track led her to the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, and after a four-year hiatus she was planning to compete in 2020 as well. The coronavirus pandemic changed those plans, of course, but she still wants to compete at the postponed games in 2021. "When it first happened I was a bit devastated because you put all this time and effort into training," she says. "However, since it's gotten pushed back, it gives me an extra year to get prepared for the Olympics. So I'm excited about this, to give myself a year to get my body, my diet, and my mental preparation ready."

The extra year has also given her time to work on her new clothing line, called Ex-Trackstar vs Trackstar. The line was inspired by her own athletic achievements but also pays homage to others who have participated in track and field. "We really don't have a clothing line dedicated to track and field," she explains. "I feel like all of the other sports lines get overpowered by sports like football, basketball, soccer. Track and field doesn't really have a line dedicated to celebrating our sport."

She also takes time to mentor the next generation of female runners from her alma mater, the University of Southern California. "There's a lot that goes into being a Division I athlete, and as a female, track and field is like everything else — another male-dominated arena," she shares. "I went through everything, so hopefully I can help the younger runners coming up in the game to be able to handle challenges or learn from what I went through."

In 2021, she also plans to release a documentary and her debut album, Self Made. "It was important for [me as] a female to be able to use my platform and to be able to show like, 'OK, this is where I started from, this is what I went through, this is where I'm at, this is where I'm headed, and this is where my future is going to be,'" she says. "Especially as a black Latina, having all these different backgrounds, I felt like it was important for me to be able to show people intense fire — to inspire younger people and inspire older people."