Former West Catholic High School star Nia Ali is a world champion in the 100-meter hurdles.
Ali, 30, who was raised in Germantown, finished first in 12.34 seconds Sunday on the last day of competition at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Doha, Qatar.
When she looked at the scoreboard after breaking the tape and saw her name posted in first place, Ali broke into tears.
“I replayed this race so much in my head, and every time that’s the way it ended for me,” she told the Associated Press. “So just to see it play out exactly how I envisioned it, that was my natural reaction.”
Ali’s two children, 4-year-old son Titus and 16-month-old daughter Yuri, joined her for her victory lap. She held Yuri in her arms while Titus “skipped and danced” around the track, according to the AP story.
“It’s been such an inspiration to see everyone come together and feed off each other,” she said.
She was referring to mothers who had won gold in Doha, including a pair of Penn Relays regulars — Allyson Felix, who captured her 13th world-championship gold medal after running in a heat for the victorious U.S. team in the 4x400 relay, and Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who took her second gold in the 100.
Ali, who graduated from Pleasantville High School after her family moved to South Jersey, was the silver medalist in the 100-meter hurdles at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She also won the world indoor championship in the 60-meter hurdles in 2014 and 2016. She ran college track at Tennessee before transferring to Southern California. She lives in North Hollywood, Calif.
Another notable development during the final weekend of competition came in the men’s shot put. Former Penn State star Joe Kovacs, the 2015 world champion, won gold again with a personal best effort of 75 feet, 2 inches, on his final throw. He defeated U.S. teammate Ryan Crouser by one-quarter of an inch, or one centimeter (22.91 meters to 22.90).
Former Penn Wood High star Darrell Hill, who also competed for Penn State, took fifth at 71-½.