Thompson’s Tait takes 110, 300-meter hurdle titles

Published 4:31 pm Thursday, May 14, 2015

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

On May 2, Emmanuel Tait won gold medals in both the 7A 110 and 300-meter hurdles. He won the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.12 second and won the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 38.83 seconds, neither of which was a personal best.

Tait started running as soon as he could. As a seventh grader, Tait came on to the track scene as part of the middle school team at Homewood, and moved on to high school track just a year later as an eighth-grader when he transferred to Thompson. A starter at cornerback for Thompson’s football team since his freshman year in high school, his quickness and athleticism is unquestioned. Which makes his humble beginnings as a hurdler all the more impressive.

As a seventh grader, Tait was intrigued when he first saw someone practicing hurdles. “I thought it looked cool,” Tait said. “So I tried it, and I sucked at it.”

However, instead of immediately moving on to something more comfortable and easy, Tait decided to stick with the event he initially struggled with.

“I just kept doing it,” Tait said. “When I start something, I really just want to get the gist of it, so I didn’t want to quit it after I realized I sucked at it.”

Part of what helped Tait become a blur in both hurdle events is the support he has received from his parents.

“My parents are huge, huge factors of what’s gone into this,” Tait said. “They wholeheartedly support me in everything that I do and I really have to thank them for that.”

His father in particular, a former runner at the University of South Carolina and Miles College, has helped push him to his limits. “He’s been teaching me at another level than I think anyone else has been getting,” Tait said.

That support and teaching, combined with his natural speed and athleticism, have made for a deadly combination.

When asked what he likes to do when he’s not on the football field or on the track, Tait pauses for a second to digest the question, then smiles and responds, “I like to eat.”

Sports dominate Tait’s life. Football and track are the centerpieces of his life, and working out and eating right take up the lion’s share of his time. However, Tait did say he enjoys video games, and has an affinity for first-person shooters on his PlayStation 4.

As Tait moves into his senior year, he will play both ways on the football team before focusing on repeating on the track. He has been approached by schools such as Michigan, Illinois and Tennessee, and wants to try and find a college that will allow him to both play football and run track.