She’s a year older, a year wiser, and several inches taller. Woodinville’s Tali Rose Estes has accomplished even more since the Woodinville Weekly introduced her to readers a year ago.
The eleven year old won the 100 meter dash this past winter at the Pacific Northwest Junior Olympics Championships. She won the gold medal in the 100 meters and qualified for nationals in Sacramento. And she returned to Staten Island, NY for nationals and finished 20th out of 5,000 girls in her age group. The amazing part? She competed at nationals with a severely blistered heel.
“Other than the injury, it was a lot of fun,” Estes said.
Estes is not the same girl she was a year ago. For starters, she was shy and timid when answering this reporter’s questions in 2016. But this time around, she responded in a confident and concise manner. She spoke clearly and loudly.
Secondly, she is in the midst of a growth spurt. She has added six inches in height over the past two years. She now stands at 5’4”.
There is a downside to being so much taller, so quickly.
“It just feels really weird,” Estes said. “I used to have much better form than I do now. My arms are not as coordinated as they used to be. My legs, because my hips are really tight, they go to the side instead of straight in. I am still trying to improve my form.”
In her young life, Estes has struggled at times with anxiety. But she felt much more comfortable last March when she returned to Staten Island for the Hershey Youth Indoor Championships.
“The first time I went there it was really tough,” Estes said. “I have a tough time adjusting to new places because of the anxiety. But this time it was way more comfortable. This time I was really used to it because I had been there before.”
Last year, Estes idolized the late Florence Griffith-Joyner, thanks to YouTube videos of the legendary sprinter. But this year, Estes also looks up to the Olympic champion Tori Bowie. In fact, Estes met Bowie recently at the West Seattle Community Center.
“She was really nice and encouraging,” Estes said. “I told her that I came third and sixth in the country, and she said `wow!’ It was really cool.”
As this spring turns to summer, Estes will continue to compete. While her increased height has forced her to reinvent her running style, she says her ambitions of Olympic gold remain in the back of her mind.
“This has slowed down my training,” she said. “But it hasn’t changed my goals.”