As Christian Wilbon stepped on to the historic Drake Stadium track in Des Moines, Iowa, preparing to compete in the AAU Junior Track and Field Outdoor Olympic Games for the fourth straight year, the moment did not overwhelm him at all.
The thousands of spectators, the giant video screen or the pressure to meet his own expectations could have got to him. They didn’t.
It was just another taste of big-time competition for the 11-year old sprinter from Waldorf.
Wilbon, who represented the Charles County Elite Track Club, rose to the occasion, placing sixth overall in the boys 11-year-old 100-meter dash finals in a time of 13.28 seconds back on Aug. 4. He just missed advancing to the finals in the 200 meters, but still finished 12th overall in the country in the event. He ran a time of 26.29 seconds in the 200 meter quarterfinals, coming in first in his heat.
For the fourth straight season Wilbon advanced to the Junior Olympics in three events (100, 200, 400 relay) and was the top-ranked sprinter in the 100 and the 200 in the state of Maryland for his age group according to MileSplit.
Wilbon, a seven time All-American was not only the lone representative from the state of Maryland in the 100 meter finals, but he was the only runner representing the East Coast in the event.
Runners in the respective 100 finals heat that Wilbon faced came from the states of Ohio, Texas, Florida and Arkansas.
Wilbon, who has been running on the junior track circuit since he was six years old now has a total of 125 medals combined in indoors and outdoors in his collection.
With his family members, and other club teammates in attendance, Wilbon was congratulated by former NFL receiver Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, who was impressed by the young sprinter’s performance at the annual track meet.
Johnson’s daughter and gold medalist Cha’iel Johnson runs for the Miami Garden Xpress Track Club.
“It felt great to finally get a medal at the Junior Olympics because I never got a medal from there before,” said Wilbon, who maintains a 3.8 GPA in the classroom. “It was really big accomplishment for me. I wanted to place higher, but at least I medaled and I’m going to keep training hard and do even better next year.”
Wilbon, who will be a sixth-grader at Mattawoman Middle School this fall, had a stellar outdoor season, placing first in the 100, 200 at the Region 3 qualifier. He also placed fifth overall in the 100 and seventh overall in the 200 at the USATF Olympic trials at Hampton University (Va.) and added first-place and fourth-place finishes in the 100 and 200 at the DMV International Track meet at Morgan State University in Baltimore.
After a busy season, Wilbon is taking three weeks off to get rest and will be preparing for indoor season. During the track season, the young track phenom has a solid training regime where he runs the stairs, does push-ups and sit-ups daily in the basement at home and even runs in the neighborhood and on the treadmill to keep his wind up and legs strong.
“I’ve always loved being around my friends and running when I was younger,” said Wilbon, who placed fourth in the 60 meters and fifth in the 200 at the Indoor Nationals back in March at Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex.
Charles County Elite Club coach Pam Muhammad offered her thoughts on Wilbon’s accomplishments.
“What Christian did this season was incredible. He has a great support system in his parents,” said Muhammad. “He comes to practice and does what he is supposed to do and is great with attention to detail and does whatever you ask him to do. He wants to get better everyday and his hard work has paid off.”
Wilbon, who grew up playing football, basketball, soccer and baseball, comes from a huge sports background within his family.
His uncle is Michael Wilbon, an ESPN commentator, co-host of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption and NBA Today anchorman.
His father, Kevin Wilbon, was a former track standout in the late 1970s at Wheaton High School in Montgomery County and a former assistant boys basketball coach at Friendly, helping to lead the school to three Maryland state championships. He also coached at Westlake, North Point and Thomas Stone within the SMAC.
Christian’s older brother Kevon was also a track standout at Westlake under sprint coach Adano Murray.
“Christian is doing things that I have my high school kids do and most kids his age aren’t able to do,” said Murray. “Sky’s the limit for this kid, all the knowledge and tools that he has now will only get better as he gets older and in high school. I think he will be one of the top kids in the country in high school.”