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Principia record holder wants to follow parents into Olympics

Siwa Asinga
Principia runner Siwa Asinga at state

Siwa Asinga harbors dreams of running in the Olympics. That’s not a surprise really. In fact, it’s a family tradition. Her father, Tommy Asinga, and her mother, Ngozi Mwanamwanbwa Asinga, both competed in the Olympics.

“I definitely aspire to go to the Olympics for sure,” Siwa said. “It has been my dream for as long as I can remember. I would love to represent Zambia since it has such a special place in my heart.”

Siwa, who was born in the USA, lived in Atlanta until 2013. Then, she moved to Zambia though she came to St. Louis for school at The Principia.

Her mother competed in 1992 in Barcelona and 1996 in Atlanta.

“She competed in the 100, 200 and 400 in Barcelona, and then the 400 in Atlanta,” Siwa said. “She did really well but did not medal in any events.”

Her father represented Suriname at the Olympics in 1988 [Seoul], 1992 [Barcelona] and 1996 [Atlanta].

“He went for the 800 in 1992 and made it to the semifinals in 1988,” Asinga said. “In 1996, he didn’t make it out of the first round.”

Siwa, however, is on a good path to achieving her dream. As a junior, she won the 300 hurdles at state. As a senior, She won events at the Class 2 state track and field meet in Jefferson City.

Siwa entered the state meet with momentum. In the district meet, she finished first in the 100- and 200-meter dashes while also winning the 300-meter low hurdles. At sectionals, she won the 100, 200 and 300 hurdles. At state, she set a new Class 2 record in the 300 hurdles, stopping the clock at 43.32 seconds. She won the 100-meter dash in 12 seconds and finished second in the 200 meter in 25 seconds, only .08 seconds off the lead.

Her times in the 100 and 200 broke Principia school records set by her mother in 1989.

Principia coach Blair Lindsay described the feat as “very cool.”

“Her mom is elated,” Blair said.

Siwa said, “She was really proud of me but funny enough she was like if anyone was to break my records it had to be my daughter, which I thought was super cool and funny. She was also shocked that her records had been there for 28 years.”

Lindsay believed Siwa would accomplish big things at state.

“We were hopeful she would win all three events, as was she, but knew that she would have some good competition,” Lindsay said.

Siwa won the 300 hurdles and set a state record.

“That race was probably one of the best for me,” she said. “It was hard. At I think the third or fourth hurdle I stuttered and got a little nervous but once I got to the last 150 of the race, I was really feeling good about it and went as fast as I could.”

When she learned her time of 43.32 was a new state record, Siwa’s initial reaction was one of disbelief.

“I was really shocked and surprised. My hurdles coach initially urged me to beat the record but I didn’t think I could do it,” she said. “When I heard that I did I was so so surprised and happy and proud of myself. My coaches were extremely proud of me and couldn’t stop smiling; my teammates as well. They were my biggest cheerleaders for sure.”

The 100 was the race Siwa wanted to win. She finished second as a junior with a time of 12.13 to Lenetta Lee, of Summit Christian Academy, who won in 12.11. This time, Asinga defeated Lee, who finished second in 12:48.

“I felt really good when I was running although I really wanted to break 12, but I was happy with the outcome because it means that the work I had put in during the season paid off,” Siwa said.

In the 200, Lee finished first and Siwa came in second.

“From where I was standing, it looked as if the two girls traded the lead several times over the last 50 meters,” Lindsay said.

Her times in 100 and 200 were new school records.

“I was really proud of myself and am to this day that I was able to accomplish so much without that much training throughout the year,” Asinga said. “I have the 100, 200, 300 hurdles and 400 records.”

Lindsay said Siwa handles her success “with great gratitude.”

“Siwa is aware she is a good runner, but she genuinely feels very privileged to be racing at state, much less doing so well,” Lindsay said.

Siwa said she enjoyed going to The Principia and will miss the school.

“I know it’s really sad to think about but it was amazing while it lasted. I look back on it by appreciating all I have accomplished and know that I wouldn’t be where I am without my amazing friends and family supporting me,” Siwa said. “I am also so grateful for all the friendships I have made in my school and outside of my school during track season. It did go by really quickly, especially this year.”

Siwa credited her coaches with making her a better athlete.

“I really enjoyed having him as a coach,” Siwa said about Lindsay. “I also had Dante Lewis, who was my sprints coach, and Briana Isom, who was my hurdles coach. They all made me who I am today and always had aspirations for me to do well in my high school career and I can’t thank them enough.”

She is still open about her college choice.

“I was supposed to go to Principia College but I think I might be going to Drake University now because I got an offer there for track and field over summer, which was so amazing,” Siwa said. “I am still deciding on what to do and where to go but I am so grateful for everything.”

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