Santa Maria Sun / Sports Lead
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 15, Issue 22
A Santa Maria teen medals in the Junior Olympics
BY HENRY HOUSTON
Joseph Domingues is showing off his bronze medal and talking about what he’s looking forward to now that he’s back from the Junior Olympics in Iowa: eating whatever he wants, sleeping in, and running at his own pace.
“I’m shocked to be in Santa Maria right now. I was getting used to being in a hotel,” Domingues said, adding that after six months of intensive training, he can really unwind. “I got to sleep in today until 7 a.m., watched TV, then went shopping with my mom to get a hat.”
For many 14-year-olds, waking up at 7 a.m. is waking up early. But for Domingues, it’s a respite from his hectic training schedule—at least until the end of August, when he’ll hit the trails for high school cross country.
During training season, he typically wakes up at 6 a.m. and hops on the Santa Maria Riverbed Trail. After which, he heads over to In Shape City for high-repetition weight lifting. Then at 4 p.m., he runs at either the Santa Maria High School track or the one at Cabrillo High School. The training paid off in Iowa, where he ran himself to a bronze medal in the 1,500-meter race and was named a Junior All American.
Whereas some teens have distaste for running, Domingues finds solace in tying his laces every morning.
“I enjoy running. It makes me feel at peace. I feel relaxed,” he said.
Although Domingues also used to lace up a pair of football cleats, he shelved them and shifted his focus to running full time at the request of coach Victor Flores, a decorated runner who trains Domingues for the 800- and 1,500-meter races.
Running doesn’t stray far from the teen’s mind, even when his feet are stationary. He reads books about running, watches YouTube videos, and studies the gait of legendary runners such as Algerian track star Taoufik Makhloufi, who runs the same events as Domingues: the 800-meter and 1,500-meter.
All the workouts and training may sound tough, but Domingues has been through harder scenarios in his lifetime. In 2011, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He said his experience with lymphoma pushes him to be a more resilient athlete.
“I learned to enjoy life, to be healthy and live every day as if it’s my last,” he said. “And whenever running gets hard, I just think how this is so much easier than being sick.”
His mother, Guinevere, said one of her son’s inspirations is Michael Jordan as she pointed at Domingues, who was wearing a Jordan shirt.
When he was battling through his illness, the Make-a-Wish Foundation approached him, and Domingues asked to meet the great basketball player. He used the meeting as a way to pick Jordan’s brain.
“I asked him how he’s become so successful,” he said. “He told me [to] work hard, then love something. You’ll do anything for it.”
Joseph Sr., Domingues’ father, said his son has always been driven.
“Joey’s a fighter, he had that spirit before getting sick,” Joseph said. “[Lymphoma] has enhanced his spirit.”
That fighting spirit came in handy during the 1,500-meter race at the Junior Olympics.
Just being in a national race is a fight to the finish, but Domingues was also placed in the heat alongside the fastest 18 people in his age group—the runner who placed first in his heat broke the age group’s national record.
He remembers starting the race at an awkward curve in the track. Then, right at the start of the race, everyone passed him.
“I couldn’t look away,” Guinevere said. “I just screamed ‘Joey!’”
“I could hear her yell my name, too,” Domginues added. “Those last 200 meters, I just pushed right by eight people, including the No. 1 seed runner.”
“I didn’t think I would do that well, but Coach Flores did,” Domingues said.
Before the race, Flores estimated that Domingues would run the 1,500-meter in 4:18; he ended the race at 4:19.
He also ended the race with a bronze medal and the title of Junior All American. The race was the cherry on top of an impressive first season of running. He’d won the 1,500-meter at the Santa Maria City, Santa Barbara County, Region 23, and California state games.
Additionally, he took home the silver from the California State Games for the 800-meter, which qualified him for the 800 in Iowa, but he decided to put all his effort into the 1,500.
Contributor Henry Houston can be reached through the executive editor at email@example.com.