Feature Friday: Sharpe Adding To Family Legacy of Greatness

Amirah Sharpe, blending her great bloodlines with a relentless work ethic and burning desire to be the best, has continued her family's remarkable legacy of track and field greatness at Paulsboro High.

The daughter of the legendary Fred Sharpe, Amirah, along with her triplet sisters (Arianna and Ariel), have all carved out names for themselves as they've followed in the famous footsteps of their dad.

For those who need a quick history lesson, Fred Sharpe solidified his status as an all-time NJ great in the late 1990's, highlighted by one of the most ridiculous and breathtaking triples in state history at the 1997 Meet of Champions. The Paulsboro star opened the meet by winning the 400m hurdles in a then-meet record and HS PR of 51.62, then placed third in the 1600m in 4:15.73, and came back to win the 800m in 1:53.40! His HS PR in the 800 is 1:49.74. Sharpe went on to an All-American career at Auburn.

With the Sharpe torch passed down from their dad, Amirah and her sisters have kept the flame burning brightly as they've blazed their own trail. And there's a good chance it will stay lit for a long time because there are more Sharpe's on the way. Fred Sharpe also has six-year old twins (Fred and his sister Azalea), and a 2 year-old son, Jaden.

Amirah, a multiple state champ in the 800m for Paulsboro, has been lighting up the track this season.with some red hot performances.

Earlier this month, running for her dad's Sharpe Athletics Club, she blasted a huge PR, NJ No. 5 all-time and US No. 6 1:15.73 to place second in the 500m at the high-powered VA Showcase. Last month, she ripped a 400m PR and NJ No. 1 57.58 at the Technique Holiday Invitational in Va.

Those performances caught our eye, so we tracked down Amirah for a Q and A for our Feature Friday spotlight story where she talked about her fast start this season, the positive influence her father has had on her family, the strong bond between the triplets, the pride she feels in being a Sharpe, her big goals for her senior year, her future plans, and a whole lot more.   

So, sit back and enjoy our latest installment of Feature Friday as we shine the spotlight on Amirah Sharpe.

Amirah Sharpe Interview

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NJM:  You have put together some really strong performances this season with a PR and NJ No. 5 all-time 1:15.73 in the 500m at the high-powered VA Showcase, and you also had a 400m PR of 57.58 last month. How excited are you with those performances, and what does it mean to you personally to be No. 5 in state history.

I'm pretty excited about my performances so far this season. I feel I can improve my time even more as the season continues. Far as being ranked NJ#5 all-time that is news to me, exciting news. Hopefully, I'll get another chance to lower my time.

What do you consider your greatest strength as a track and field athlete? What do you think enables you to be as strong as you are at so many different distances?

My greatest strength is my drive and determination. When I step on the track, my goal is always to run faster than my previous times in respected races. What enables me is my strong faith and the gift God has blessed me with.

Watch Sharpe run the 500m at the VA Showcase.

You have shown great range, running fast times from the 55m dash through 800m. What do you consider to be your best distance and why, and how much have the shorter races helped you in your 800m, and much have the middle-distance races helped your sprint times?

The 500m, because it prepares me for the 400m hurdles and the 800m. The shorter races help me with my speed. The 800m is almost a two lap sprint, so you have to have the speed and strength for the last 200m in the 800m to finish well. The middle distance races help me by being able to finish strong.

When will you be competing again? Anything this weekend?

I will be competing on Saturday January 30th-31st at the 757 showdown in VA and at the East Coast Invitational also in VA.

What are your biggest goals for the rest of this indoor season and for the outdoor season? What kind of times would you like to hit?

My biggest goal for the rest of the indoor and outdoor season is to improve my times in my races. Far as times, I would like to hit the 400m hurdles 59.5, 800m 2:10, 400m 55, and 200m 24.5.

You've had a lot of great moments in your career at Paulsboro High, but which do you consider your biggest moment and why?

My biggest moment was winning the Group 1 state title in the 800m/4x400m for back-to-back years and helping my team win the Group 1 team title.

Let's get into some background. Obviously, you come from a great T&F family. Your dad is one of the greatest T&F athletes in state history. Can you tell me how, when and why you first got started competing in track and field?

It first started in Middle School when I was in 6th grade. I like to run, and my dad ran track, so it was only fitting that I go out for the team. Plus I like to be around my sisters.

As I just mentioned, your dad is a T&F legend in NJ. How does it feel for you and your siblings to carry on the great Sharpe family legacy? You must be very proud to continue the tradition of excellence in Paulsboro that your dad started?

Yes, proud indeed. It felt great to step on the track knowing my dad built something special at Paulsboro High. His name will always be mentioned as one of the greats to have ever done it at Paulsboro.  It was an honor for me and my sisters to follow in my dad's footsteps. Hopefully our name will be mentioned up there with our father one day. 

Unfortunately, there wasn't an outdoor season last spring because of COVID-19, so you didn't get a chance to run outdoor track last spring. How challenging was that and how tough was it mentally to deal with?

It was tough because I was ready!  I knew my junior year was going to be my breakout year.  Mentally it was hard to deal with because of the uncertainty of whether the track season was going to happen or not. When it was finally announced that it was cancelled, it was devastating. You train so hard and to not be able to run was so upsetting.

What type of things did you do to stay sharp for track and field during the spring/summer? I'm sure you and your siblings worked out with your dad and the rest of the Sharpe Athletics Team?

We trained throughout the summer.  We were planning on running at AAU Club Nationals in FL, but the Covid-19 cases spiked up so high and our dad decided not to risk competing.  

What's it like running for your dad, who coaches your club team? It must be nice for you and your siblings and your whole family to be together on the track?

It's nice to be able to be coached by our dad. He is very knowledgeable when it comes to track and field.  I like that he can help me in the sport and to help me be successful. I hope to follow in his footsteps some day.  I like the family time at practice with all of us being out there together.

What are some of the biggest things you've learned from your father about track and field? About competing and training, both mentally and physically.

I learned a lot from my dad. I learned what it takes to be a champion, the hard work and sacrifices, the drive and the motivation it takes to be great.  He would tell us to compete to the best of your ability and that you are going to go through your ups and downs and that the hard time will make you stronger.  Far as the physical challenge, track and field is the most physically challenging sport. You have to train your body to run fast, and if you do not, it will show in your performance.

In what ways has it helped you and your siblings to have one another to train with and push one another in workouts, especially during this pandemic when you can't train with your high school team. I imagine that all of you are better and faster because you have each other?

It helps a lot, we are all competitors in our own right.  We do not like coming in last at practice.  Every rep feels like a race, that's what makes practice so fun.

When would you say you had your first huge breakthrough moment when you realized you could be a big track and field star?

My freshman year when I broke four school records and people started to compare me to my dad.

What do you love the most about being a track and field athlete?

The thing that I love the most about track and field athlete is being able to show off my God giving talent.

How about the future? Are you and your sisters committed to a college yet? If so, what made you choose that school? If not, what schools are you considering?

My future plans are to attend a four year college and graduate and to run professionally.  We have not committed to any colleges right now.  But I am considering: University of Cincinnati, South Alabama, South Florida, Florida, and Tennessee.

What do you plan to major in? What are your long-term goals in track and field and as a career one day?

I plan to major in Food Science and minor in Business. My long term goal in track and field is to compete professionally and be successful in everything that I do.