Sakari Famous joined an elite group of Bermudian athletes after accepting a full athletics scholarship to the University of Georgia.
The high jumper signed a letter of intent during an emotional press conference at Berkeley Institute yesterday, where Donna Raynor, the Bermuda National Athletics Association president, and Famous’s coach, Rohaan Simons. struggled to hold back tears.
Famous, a five-times Carifta Games medal-winner, will enrol in the autumn next year and is the latest Bermuda athlete to compete for the university, after high jumper Latroya Darrell and middle-distance runners Aaron Evans and Steve Burgess.
“This is a dream come true,” said Famous, who won bronze at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Nassau, Bahamas, in August.
“I’ve always wanted to compete at a high level after high school and to have the opportunity to do it at UGA is awesome.
“UGA has one of the best programmes in the US and I can’t wait to be a part of their legacy.
“Getting to this point is special and I couldn’t have done it without my support system. I would like to thank them all.
“My mother taught me this quote: Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.
“I practically live by this quote and want to encourage others to believe that you can achieve your dreams as well.”
Famous chose the Bulldogs school instead of NCAA Division I rivals North Carolina, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.
Asked what she intends to major in, the Berkeley Institute student said: “Right now I am thinking about a business major, like entrepreneurship or sport management.
“I just want to make sure I’m involved in sport because that’s my love and I want to help other people go through life and succeed through sports.”
Famous’s four-year scholarship is worth $180,000.
“It feels great that they believe enough in me to pay for my schooling and education,” she said.
“It’s really great to know that there are schools out there that are willing to take you and your talent.”
A teary-eyed Raynor was among those offering their congratulations.
“On behalf of the Bermuda National Athletics Association, we would like to congratulate you, Sakari,” Raynor said.
“You have been a success for us. Whenever you’ve travelled, whenever you’ve competed, we can always depend on one athlete bringing back a medal.
“I’m just so pleased whenever I see an athlete getting this opportunity because I had that opportunity and that’s the reason I do what I do.”
An equally emotional Simons, who has coached Famous since she was 13, added: “Sakari was a part of my original crew of jumpers as I started to coach on the international level.
“I can definitely say that she set herself apart from any other female jumper. Her exceptional talent, her higher work ethic and excellent attitude are a coach’s dream.
“Today is an extremely proud day for me and I wish Sakari all the very best as she pursues her craft and while she obtains her education abroad.”