GTL x LOA Presents: The Olympian Spotlight series.

OLYMPIAN SPOTLIGHT Kia Id-Deen 2008 Beijing Olympics Words by Manseen Logan
June 23, 2022

Life hasn’t slowed down for Kia Id-Deen. Not one bit.

Since representing Liberia at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the former sprinter has worked and volunteered as a track coach at several schools. She has moved up and down the Eastern U.S. with her husband, who also coaches track. She is working as an online enrollment counselor for a university. And she’s currently raising two sons who are both under two years old.

Despite her busy schedule, Id-Deen made time to jump on the phone and share her athletic journey with Go Team Liberia. It’s a journey that started in Southwest Philadelphia and Chester Pennsylvania, where she was born and raised.

“I started running when I was eight years old,” Id-Deen told GTL. ” I have an older brother and everything he did I wanted to do.”

While training along side her brother, the young athlete, whose maiden name is Kia Davis, became a standout runner. Her mom allowed her to join summer track clubs and she stuck with it throughout elementary, middle, and high school.

Whether she knew it or not, her commitment to the sport was helping to instill the discipline and consistency she would need to become the Liberian 400m female record holder and an Olympian.

Photo credit: Tom Gannam / NCAA Photos via Getty Images

From college to the pros

Throughout her extensive track journey, Id-Deen has ran almost every event from cross country to short sprints and hurdles. But she said track was not her first choice, when it comes to sports.

“My English teacher in eighth grade actually saw me running in gym class and I was beating all the boys and he was like, ‘I can’t wait for you to get to high school so you can run track,’ and I was like, ‘I’m not gonna run,'” Id-Deen shared.

In fact, the destined runner was more interested in being a cheerleader or basketball player. She even said she tried tennis and played an instrument. Her heart was set on doing anything, but high school track. Yet, after constant persuasion from her high school’s track coach, track is where she ended up.

Colleges started reaching out to Id-Deen, before she could finish her freshman year at Chester high school. These outreaches showed her that track could give her greater opportunities. Ultimately, she accepted an offer to attend Villanova University in Pennsylvania where she won several championships as a 100m and 400m hurdler. Even becoming a 4×400 relay champion.

During her college years she continued to stand out. Continued winning championships. Transferred to St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh North Carolina. Graduated in 2001. Then went pro.

The road to Team Liberia

In 2004, she began focusing on the open 400 in order to improve her 400m hurdling time. A common practice for most hurdlers. This is where fate really started to show itself. That season, Id-Deen ran her first 400 meters race within 51 seconds. Safely meeting Olympic B standards and milliseconds away from qualifying with A standards. Her coach refocused and removed hurdles from her events, instantly.

As Id-Deen shared her athletic story, her brother, teachers, and coaches stood out as important vehicles to her success. But nobody stood out more than her mother, who actively made sure she was involved in progressive activities throughout her youth.

Her mother’s guidance was instrumental in Id-Deen representing the US in the 4×400 relay at the 2006 World Indoor Championships in Russia. However, Id-Deen shared that it was her father’s Liberian lineage that helped her make the switch to Team Liberia.

In 2007, she was recruited to represent Liberia and seized the opportunity. By 2008, Id-Deen ran her personal best time in the 400 meters, 51.55s. That not only made her Liberia’s record-holder, it solidified her spot on the Olympic team with an A standard qualifying time.

Id-Deen represented Liberia at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the women’s 200m and 400m, running 24.31s and 53.99s respectively. The rest is history. The rest is history.

Moving forward

While reflecting on where track and field has taken her, Id-Deen made a point to share what she hopes for the future.

“The hope is to continue to put Liberia on the map,” Id-Deen said. “Because it’s one of those things of them [younger athletes] having the same opportunities…and being able to be fully supported not only by the people in the country, but by Liberian athletes all over the world.”

With an eager tone, Id-Deen said she is excited about the work that the Liberia Olympian Association has planned  and is looking forward to giving back to Liberia’s next generation of athletes. She wants these new athletes to focus on being consistent and honestly doing what it takes to be great.

“For me to be able to give back I feel like it’s an honor, it’s something that I feel like I’m supposed to do.”

Listen and read Id-Deen’s Q&A below.

 

My name is Kia Id-Deen, formerly Kia Davis, and I competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

 

Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born in Southwest Philadelphia, and I grew up in Chester, PA.

What do you love about Liberia? 

What I love most about Liberia is the food and the culture.

When did you start running and how did you end up on the Liberia Olympic Team?

I started running track when I was eight years old and, I’m sure like many of us, Kouty found me and recruited me. That’s how I was able to represent team Liberia.

What’s your favorite sports event and what do you miss most about being on the team?

My favorite sport event would have to be the 400 meters and I do miss it. I started out as a short sprinter and for me running the 400 was less stress.

Photo courtesy of Kia Id-Deen.

What’s your favorite Olympic memory?

I actually have two. Walking into the, the bird’s nest during the opening ceremonies. They call us in and the energy that was in there was unreal for me. I think it literally hit me then, like oh my goodness, I’m actually in Beijing at the Olympics. Something that I worked really, really hard to do for so long. Everything was coming full circle and it was just so surreal.

My other memory would probably be when Usain Bolt broke the world record in the 100 meters. I actually think he could have done it in the semis, but watching him run live and in person was really a good thing.

What’s your #1 advice to an athlete who wants to become an Olympian?

My number one advice that I would give to an athlete, that’s looking to become an Olympian, just be consistent. Show up and do the work on and off the field.

[That’s] one of the things I tell athletes nowadays that talk about wanting to run at that next level. And the first thing I ask them [is] how consistent are you with what you’re doing?

I tell students all the time, the only thing you’re consistent at is being inconsistent.

What’s an interesting fact about you that not many people know?

The interesting fact that a lot of people don’t know about me, since having my kids, I think it’s always been in me, but all the DIY stuff, all the mom hacks, you name it, all the crafts have most definitely come full circle and full bloom.

What do you miss the most about competing and what’s life like after sports?

What I miss most about competing is competing itself. I don’t miss the training. I do miss the traveling, but just being a competitor and just getting out there.

After putting [in] all the hard work, going out there and showing everybody what I have or what I got. So I think most definitely, I just miss competing as a whole.

And right now, life after sports, I’m still part of track and field. I’m still in sports, just in a smaller capacity. I thought life would slow down a little bit, but like I said, being married and a mom of two under two [years old], most definitely my hands are full right now. That’s what life looks like right now.

Readers can stay in touch with Id-Deen by following her on Instagram at @kia_id_deen. Supporters can also keep up with her on the Liberia Olympians social media pages— @liberiaolympians.

The Olympian Spotlight Series is a monthly project that features the journeys and lives of Liberia’s Olympians. Not only does the project highlight their lives as athletes, it expresses their views as Liberians and showcases life after professional sports. Its goal is to honor these athletes and encourage readers who may want to support or become an Olympian themselves.

Read More

Life hasn’t slowed down for Kia Id-Deen. Not one bit.

Since representing Liberia at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the former sprinter has worked and volunteered as a track coach at several schools. She has moved up and down the Eastern U.S. with her husband, who also coaches track. She is working as an online enrollment counselor for a university. And she’s currently raising two sons who are both under two years old.

Despite her busy schedule, Id-Deen made time to jump on the phone and share her athletic journey with Go Team Liberia. It’s a journey that started in Southwest Philadelphia and Chester Pennsylvania, where she was born and raised.

“I started running when I was eight years old,” Id-Deen told GTL. ” I have an older brother and everything he did I wanted to do.”

While training along side her brother, the young athlete, whose maiden name is Kia Davis, became a standout runner. Her mom allowed her to join summer track clubs and she stuck with it throughout elementary, middle, and high school.

Whether she knew it or not, her commitment to the sport was helping to instill the discipline and consistency she would need to become the Liberian 400m female record holder and an Olympian.

Photo credit: Tom Gannam / NCAA Photos via Getty Images

From college to the pros

Throughout her extensive track journey, Id-Deen has ran almost every event from cross country to short sprints and hurdles. But she said track was not her first choice, when it comes to sports.

“My English teacher in eighth grade actually saw me running in gym class and I was beating all the boys and he was like, ‘I can’t wait for you to get to high school so you can run track,’ and I was like, ‘I’m not gonna run,'” Id-Deen shared.

In fact, the destined runner was more interested in being a cheerleader or basketball player. She even said she tried tennis and played an instrument. Her heart was set on doing anything, but high school track. Yet, after constant persuasion from her high school’s track coach, track is where she ended up.

Colleges started reaching out to Id-Deen, before she could finish her freshman year at Chester high school. These outreaches showed her that track could give her greater opportunities. Ultimately, she accepted an offer to attend Villanova University in Pennsylvania where she won several championships as a 100m and 400m hurdler. Even becoming a 4×400 relay champion.

During her college years she continued to stand out. Continued winning championships. Transferred to St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh North Carolina. Graduated in 2001. Then went pro.

The road to Team Liberia

In 2004, she began focusing on the open 400 in order to improve her 400m hurdling time. A common practice for most hurdlers. This is where fate really started to show itself. That season, Id-Deen ran her first 400 meters race within 51 seconds. Safely meeting Olympic B standards and milliseconds away from qualifying with A standards. Her coach refocused and removed hurdles from her events, instantly.

As Id-Deen shared her athletic story, her brother, teachers, and coaches stood out as important vehicles to her success. But nobody stood out more than her mother, who actively made sure she was involved in progressive activities throughout her youth.

Her mother’s guidance was instrumental in Id-Deen representing the US in the 4×400 relay at the 2006 World Indoor Championships in Russia. However, Id-Deen shared that it was her father’s Liberian lineage that helped her make the switch to Team Liberia.

In 2007, she was recruited to represent Liberia and seized the opportunity. By 2008, Id-Deen ran her personal best time in the 400 meters, 51.55s. That not only made her Liberia’s record-holder, it solidified her spot on the Olympic team with an A standard qualifying time.

Id-Deen represented Liberia at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the women’s 200m and 400m, running 24.31s and 53.99s respectively. The rest is history.

Moving forward

While reflecting on where track and field has taken her, Id-Deen made a point to share what she hopes for the future.

“The hope is to continue to put Liberia on the map,” Id-Deen said. “Because it’s one of those things of [younger athletes] having the same opportunities…and being able to be fully supported not only by the people in the country, but by Liberian athletes all over the world.”

With an eager tone, Id-Deen said she is excited about the work that the Liberia Olympian Association has planned  and is looking forward to giving back to Liberia’s next generation of athletes. She wants these new athletes to focus on being consistent and honestly doing what it takes to be great.

“For me to be able to give back I feel like it’s an honor, it’s something that I feel like I’m supposed to do.”

Listen and read Id-Deen’s Q&A below.

 

My name is Kia Id-Deen, formerly Kia Davis, and I competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

 

Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born in Southwest Philadelphia, and I grew up in Chester, PA.

What do you love about Liberia? 

What I love most about Liberia is the food and the culture.

When did you start running and how did you end up on the Liberia Olympic Team?

I started running track when I was eight years old and, I’m sure like many of us, Kouty found me and recruited me. That’s how I was able to represent team Liberia.

What’s your favorite sports event and what do you miss most about being on the team?

My favorite sport event would have to be the 400 meters and I do miss it. I started out as a short sprinter and for me running the 400 was less stress.

Photo courtesy of Kia Id-Deen.

What’s your favorite Olympic memory?

I actually have two. Walking into the, the bird’s nest during the opening ceremonies. They call us in and the energy that was in there was unreal for me. I think it literally hit me then, like oh my goodness, I’m actually in Beijing at the Olympics. Something that I worked really, really hard to do for so long. Everything was coming full circle and it was just so surreal.

My other memory would probably be when Usain Bolt broke the world record in the 100 meters. I actually think he could have done it in the semis, but watching him run live and in person was really a good thing.

What’s your #1 advice to an athlete who wants to become an Olympian?

My number one advice that I would give to an athlete, that’s looking to become an Olympian, just be consistent. Show up and do the work on and off the field.

[That’s] one of the things I tell athletes nowadays that talk about wanting to run at that next level. And the first thing I ask them [is] how consistent are you with what you’re doing?

I tell students all the time, the only thing you’re consistent at is being inconsistent.

What’s an interesting fact about you that not many people know?

The interesting fact that a lot of people don’t know about me, since having my kids, I think it’s always been in me, but all the DIY stuff, all the mom hacks, you name it, all the crafts have most definitely come full circle and full bloom.

What do you miss the most about competing and what’s life like after sports?

What I miss most about competing is competing itself. I don’t miss the training. I do miss the traveling, but just being a competitor and just getting out there.

After putting [in] all the hard work, going out there and showing everybody what I have or what I got. So I think most definitely, I just miss competing as a whole.

And right now, life after sports, I’m still part of track and field. I’m still in sports, just in a smaller capacity. I thought life would slow down a little bit, but like I said, being married and a mom of two under two [years old], most definitely my hands are full right now. That’s what life looks like right now.

Readers can stay in touch with Id-Deen by following her on Instagram at @kia_id_deen. Supporters can also  keep up with her on the Liberia Olympians social media pages— @liberiaolympians.

The Olympian Spotlight Series is a monthly project that features the journeys and lives of Liberia’s Olympians. Not only does the project highlight their lives as athletes, it expresses their views as Liberians and showcases life after professional sports. Its goal is to honor these athletes and encourage readers who may want to support or become an Olympian themselves.

Read More