Stay down until you come up!

Written by on July 23, 2021

Mario Burke! A name that many of us have been hearing when it comes to track athletics for years! From the National Primary Schools Athletics Championship (NAPSAC) to Barbados Secondary Schools’ Athletics Championships (BSSAC) and representing Barbados at multiple track meets abroad, it is no doubt that he was Olympic bound from a young age. At the age of six, Mario started on his athletic path, and as he explained running just came naturally for him. Running at lunch time at school, playing football and cricket, many realised that he was naturally fast and this led to him trying out for NAPSAC back in Primary School. It was this first step, that propelled Mario forward in his track career and the fact that he genuinely liked the sport and competing that added extra motivation for him.

Mario shared that his parents were always heavily involved in sports and enjoyed watching them. So, in 2004 when he watched his first Olympics on the television, he knew that this was something he wanted to achieve in life. He wanted to represent his country at the Olympics and he would not stop until he achieved this goal. After receiving a scholarship to attend the University of Huston, Mario continued to focus on what he wanted to achieve while training to perfect his craft to the best of his ability. This hard work and effort paid off in the end, and Mario made Barbados’ Olympic team! As he explained, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of his shoulder, as he had achieved something he always wanted.

Photo of Mario Burke in his Team Barbados track uniform.

However, with the events of COVID-19, training was not easy. In 2020 especially, Mario recalled training being very challenging. Not being able to meet face-to-face with coaches and trainers, along with having to train by himself in the Huston heat, made keeping motivated even harder. In order to self-motivate, Mario explained that he had to remind himself of what he wanted out of the sport and want he wanted out of his life, who he wants to be as a person and who he wants to be as an athlete. With the highs, can come some lows, but as Mario calmly said, “Stay down until you come up”. It is when he is in a bit of a “funk” and not performing the way that he wants to, that he reminds himself of this important message. “You can’t let a couple bad races define who you are as an athlete”, he continued. Remembering who you are, believing in yourself, believing in who you are as an athlete, backing your abilities and staying focused are all things that he remembers in any trying moments throughout his track career. 

Photo of Mario Burke taking off at the starting blocks.

Now as a full-time athlete in Huston, Mario shared his wisdom to any upcoming athletes, not only in track but in any sport. “Finding that balance between school and your sport is very important. If you can find that balance, then you’re on the right tack because it will not always be easy”, Mario said. Remember that your dreams are realistic despite any negative things and people that may come your way and as long as you believe in yourself, just keep pushing! Throughout his journey, Mario said that he could not have gotten where he was without his parents. Without them, he would not have even started on his track path. Although he may not have come from much, Mario said that he always had everything he needed and his dad always made sure that he was taken care of. Along with his parents, he thanks his aunts, friends and coaches that helped to keep him grounded, saw his potential and believed in his abilities. I wish Mario all the best in the Tokyo Olympics and I look forward to seeing what the future has in store for him. 

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