Iowa Alumni Magazine | June 2006 | People

She's Like the Wind: Kineke Alexander

By Kathryn Howe

In the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent, white-sand beaches meet bright blue waters. Lush green landscapes spill toward the sea and the average year-round temperature is 81 degrees.

Only the dogged pursuit of a passion could coax Kineke Alexander from this tropical paradise to the University of Iowa, where she's a sprinter for the women's track and field team.

"I didn't know a thing about Iowa," says Alexander, a sophomore international studies/history major, who first learned of the Hawkeye State when Coach James Grant—also a Caribbean native—recruited her. "Now, I know Iowa is for me. Being here is the start of my [athletic] dreams coming true."

This past spring, Alexander secured a NCAA indoor championship in the 400 meters, the team's first national title in over a decade and the first for an Iowa sprinter. Only the fourth NCAA track champion in UI history, Alexander rewrote the record books earlier in the season when she clocked a 52.01 in the 400 to claim the school's fastest time.

The rewards make the sacrifices bearable.

She misses her mom and brothers whom she visits only once a year and calls weekly. They haven't seen her race at Iowa and probably won't. Her face softens when she mentions Ken-I and Kemis, ages 11 and 8.

"They're probably too busy fighting to miss me," jokes Alexander, whose sparkly pink nail polish reveals a personality beyond her shy demeanor.

The support of teammates has seen her through difficult times. She's adapted to the noise of dorm life, the bustling pedestrian traffic, and the harsh Iowa winters. Her schedule as a student-athlete, including three hours of afternoon practice Monday through Friday, really leaves little time to grow wistful.

Alexander hopes the second half of her career at Iowa is as successful as the first. She even has her eyes set on the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Don't blink; you might miss her.