‘Follow your heart, everything good will come your way’
Jasmine Camacho-Quinn hopes she ‘put a smile on people’s faces’ with Olympic victory
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special to The Star
To the rhythm of the bomba and with cheers galore, hurdler and Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn arrived in Puerto Rico on Tuesday to celebrate her victory in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in a caravan with her family and supporters.
A rally in Trujillo Alto, the hometown of her mother María Milagros Camacho, was the culmination of a caravan through the San Juan metro area to honor Camacho-Quinn for becoming Puerto Rico’s first track and field gold medalist and for breaking two world records at the recently completed Summer Games in Tokyo.
During a press conference held in the JetBlue terminal at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Carolina, where Camacho-Quinn arrived on the “Bluericua” airbus, she said her victory in the 100-meter hurdles was a redemption after a loss at the 2016 Río Olympics, which prevented her from competing in other events.
“Back in 2016, I got some love, definitely not as much as the amount that I am getting now; but now, once I crossed that line, I was just like, ‘this [victory] was not for me, it was for my family, my supporters, like Puerto Rico,’” she said. “I just knew that this would bring a lot of joy to people, especially with things that have happened over the years, such as the hurricanes, hopefully, this can put a smile on their faces, this actually gives people hope.”
“It’s been something major, bringing the second gold medal [to Puerto Rico], and being the second woman to do it, it means a lot,” Camacho-Quinn added. “The love is really so much, and I really do thank everybody for it.”
When asked what her victory would mean for black women around the world, she said her win meant a lot because “representation matters.”
“Winning this medal actually meant, it kind of educated some people,” she said. “Everybody thinks that being Puerto Rican, you’re supposed to look a certain kind of way; this shined a light on black Puerto Ricans, and I’m very grateful for it.”
Meanwhile, when asked what kind of legacy she would like to be remembered for, Camacho-Quinn said she would love to be remembered for bringing islanders joy, happiness and hope.
“You can work hard for something, like, whatever it is you want to achieve, and everything that you wish for,” she said. “This [achievement] isn’t just for me, this is honestly for everybody; that’s just how I feel.”
And for the girls who look like her and want to be like her, a gold medalist, Camacho-Quinn said to “not let little mistakes stop you.”
“If you put your mind to it, you can achieve it, no matter what everyone else has to say,” she said. “Follow your heart, everything good will come your way.”
“I do call on you to stop beating yourself up and being negative,” the hurdler added. “You’re not really going to get anywhere, you’re not going to look forward to what you do every day.”
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said Camacho-Quinn’s “incredible accomplishment” was “one that all of us will cherish together” and a reminder of what investing more in the development of professional athletes would represent.
“Jasmine is an example of what it means to be a Puerto Rican,” the governor said. “The fact that you chose to wear our flag is something we will never forget.”