WINONA, Minn. (WXOW) – In just a few years from now, people all over the world may know the name Grace Ping.
Only ten years old, Ping has already broken track and field records in Minnesota and the world.
Ping, a 5th grade student at St. Stanislaus School, is a typical standout kid. “Grace is every teacher’s dream. She is an ‘A’ student, she gets along with everyone, and we just love her here,” Ping’s teacher Sharon Penning said.
It wasn’t in the classroom though where Ping made a name for herself—it was at a St. Mary’s University Track and Field meet, where she had one goal in mind.
“To set the world record. Yea…to set the world record,” Ping said.
On April 26th, Ping ran her first 5k in a collegiate track meet, finishing in 18:02—a world record for a ten year-old female.
“It feels really good and it kind of tells me that if I keep running like that, I can be on track to being an Olympic runner,” Ping said.
Ping broke the previous world record by 40 seconds, and St. Mary’s Head Track and Field coach Niels Anderson said it caught many people’s attention.
“All of a sudden, people started to take notice of this ten year-old who on the first lap, was all of a sudden out on a great big lead, and it was so noticeable because she was so much smaller than everyone else,” Anderson said.
Anderson has seen many record-breaking performances in the past, but he called Ping’s performance “beyond special,” as he said it was “a once-in-a-lifetime event”.
“It’s one of the most incredible things, easily, I can say I’ve ever seen,” Anderson said.
Anderson said he encourages Ping to continue to carry with her the “joy of running”, and keep running with a care-free, fun, and energetic personality.
Anderson said he believes Ping has the talent to be a future world-class runner, and he said she “definitely” is a division one-level talent.
Ping also plays soccer, bikes, swims, skies, and participates in triathlons. Besides wanting to be an Olympian, Ping said she hopes to write about running when she grows up. Anderson said he expects Grace to attract plenty of attention from colleges when she gets older.
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