Julien Alfred puts St. Lucia on the Map with a stunning win in the women’s 60m

As Julien Alfred realized she had won the women’s 60m final at the world indoor championships taking place in Glasgow, she ran over to meet a man who held a St. Lucian flag. It might have been seen as routine at these events, but the Caribbean Island nation of less than 200,000 people doesn’t usually win medals for these events. All it took for Alfred was 6.98s to make history.

With all the heats, semis, and finals taking place on the same day, Allred’s strength, which she had developed in the 200m, proved important as she knew not only being the fastest but the strongest on the day would play a crucial part in who became the winner. Her major rival was Poland’s Ewa Swoboda. Another of her rivals, US champion Aleia Hobbs – the second-fastest woman in history at this distance – picked up what looked to be a calf injury on the startline just moments before the gun sounded. At that moment, only one woman stood in front of her and victory.

Ewa Swoboda, 60m, photo by Martin Bateman

Swoboda surged ahead with impressive speed as the starting gun went off, maintaining a slight lead over Alfred, Italy’s Zaynab Dosso, and New Zealand’s Zoe Hobbs. Swoboda exhibited exceptional form throughout the race, but Alfred remained composed and determined, making a decisive charge in the final stretch to secure victory.

Crossing the finish line just behind Alfred, Swoboda claimed the silver medal with a time of 7.00s, marking her first senior global medal achievement. Dosso secured the bronze medal with a time of 7.05s, narrowly edging out Hobbs by 0.01s.

“It wasn’t a perfect race for me as I didn’t have a great start as I felt that it could have been much better, but I’m glad I was able to pull through to win the race in the end.”

Alfred, who became the reigning NCAA indoor champion over 60m and 200m and the reigning NCAA outdoor champion over 100m and 200m, feels she has finally grown into a woman and can challenge some of the very best in the game outdoors. She’s also the 2023 Bowerman Award winner, the prize given to the outstanding collegiate track and field athlete each year.

Julien Alfred takes the 60m art by World Athletics.

This win for Alfred serves as an indicator that she’s moving in the right direction. Between all these successes, she has seen her fair share of tribulations. There was the loss of her father, Julian, when she was 12. There was moving away from home to Jamaica at just 14. There was the death last December of her old PE teacher, Simeon Stephen, who first discovered Alfred’s talent and convinced her to remain an athlete as she was on the verge of giving up.

Before these Indoor Championships, St. Lucia had never won a medal. Its best result was a fifth-place finish in the high jump for Levern Spencer in 2016. Alfred was elated, and hoisting the flag meant so much to her. “It feels good to be the one to do this. I’m very overwhelmed, as I’ve been dreaming of this for a long time in my career.”

Saint Lucia has never won an Olympic medal in any sport, and Alfred knows the hype is building as the Games approach this summer. It might be a tall order, but it’s one she’s looking forward to.

“I don’t really pay attention to the media, but I do have a lot of supporters back home who send messages to my family, and they transfer to me. This win will definitely spur me on. I definitely want a medal in Paris—a gold, silver, or bronze in the 100m and 200m.”