Hurdling the highest obstacle

07/29/2021

DFW-based Envoy Fleet Service Clerk Jordin Andrade to compete in 400-meter hurdles.

When Jordin Andrade walks onto the practice track at a high school in Euless, Texas, it’s 86 degrees and breezy. “It’s like winter out here today,” Jordin, a professional hurdler, said jokingly to his coach, David Burnett.

Usually, the temperature in Dallas-Fort Worth during the summer hovers in the high 90s with humidity. And before getting permission to use this track, usually, coach and athlete are searching for a location to train. The COVID-19 pandemic closed access to most public tracks conducive to training.

“We got kicked out of some places,” Burnett admitted, undeterred. “I was building PVC pipe hurdles in my garage.”

But he’s on the track today and less than two weeks away from competing in Japan, where he hopes all the obstacles, perseverance and hard work pay off.

The road to compete

Jordin grew up in the United States, with dual citizenship in Cape Verde, a small island country in Africa where his father was born. A stellar high school athlete, he went on to have a winning career in the 400-meter, 400-meter hurdler and 4x400 relay at Boise State University during his tenure. But that was just the beginning. In 2016, he represented Cape Verde on the world stage, running against the world’s elite athletes.

But as he was gearing to represent Cape Verde again in 2020, the onset of the pandemic canceled scheduled competition, and he was forced to put his athletic dreams on pause. All the planning, all the training and all the emotion came to an abrupt standstill as the world shut down.

“It was tough because everything you’ve been planning stops — you have to restart mentally,” Jordin said.

Extending training another year meant recommitting to a strict regimen, studying for his first year of a Doctor of Chiropractic degree and buying some time at work. Moving bags on the ramp at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport kept him fit and kept his schedule open to focus on his hurdles.

Despite the delay, Jordin said he’s ready to run — and with a new state of mind.

“The first time, I was so nervous before my race, but once I got on the track in front of the crowds and the TVs, I realized that it’s the same track I’ve been running my entire life,” he said. “Now, I’m just going to enjoy my time and do the best I can.”

Race day regimen

For the last year, Jordin’s schedule has been specific: He’s focused on a carb-heavy diet and finding a track to train three days a week from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The schedule left him just enough time to take a shower and drive to the airport to work a 2:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. part-time shift. When he wasn’t running and working, he was taking virtual and in-person classes at Parker University for his degree.

“He’s one of the hardest working people that I’ve been around,” Coach David said. “Despite the circumstances we’ve had to work through this year, he’s never complained, he’s always put in the work.”

Jordin said he can’t help but feel lucky to have another chance to compete for Cape Verde.

“Being an athlete for a smaller country — it’s a different type of honor,” said Jordin, who carried his country’s flag in the opening event last Friday. “You can use your gift to shed light on a country that doesn’t normally get the light.”

When he finally sets his feet on the track, he hopes to crush his personal best time of 49.24 seconds, and he hopes it’s enough to have him standing next to some of the best athletes he’s ever seen.

“I’m excited to watch greatness happen,” he said. “Watching greatness happen and history make itself.”