Candace Hill has become the youngest track athlete in the United States to turn pro at 16 years old, according to the New York Times.
Hill, the fastest high school female sprinter ever and the first to break 11 seconds, is coming off an amazing spring and summer in which her performances garnered her multiple honors, including the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year, Gatorade National Female Athlete of the Year and the USA Track and Field Youth Athlete of the Year.
She is part of a growing trend of track athletes turning pro early.
Hill set two world youth records in 2015. She ran 10.98 seconds in the 100 meters in June at the Brooks Invitational in Washington to become the only high school female to break 11 seconds. She ran 22.43 in the 200 at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Columbia and set meet records in winning both the 100 and the 200.
According to the Times, Hill has signed a 10-year contract that includes full tuition for her to any college that admits her, even though she would be ineligible to compete in college athletics. An outstanding student, Hill should have her choice of where to attend.
“Turning professional now was a hard decision because I can’t keep running high school track with my team or run in college,” she said. “But I want to get faster, and it seems time for the next step.”
Hill, her parents and agents insist little will change now that she has turned pro entering her junior year of high school. The biggest difference is that she changed coaches 10 weeks ago to Tony Carpenter, who is expected to collaborate with her high school coaches.
Hill will no longer compete in high school meets but will go against other professionals for prize money. Her biggest focus is the Olympics Trials in Oregon in July. She is the youngest U.S. atlhete to qualify for the trials in the 100 and 200 meters.
“What’s intriguing is that she got so good so suddenly, and didn’t change anything in her routine,” agent Mark Wetmore told the Times. “So moving forward, we think it’s important to avoid changing anything other than the people in the other seven lanes.”