A WALK WITH A HAWK ... FEATURING: LENORA GUION-FIRMIN
Guion-Firmin became UMES' first women's track All-American first-team honoree since the school went to Division 1 in 1970
Guion-Firmin became UMES' first women's track All-American first-team honoree since the school went to Division 1 in 1970

Oct. 4, 2012

PRINCESS ANNE, Md. - 636,000 to 1.

This is the number that represents the odds of someone becoming an Olympic athlete at some point in their lives.

Yes, six-hundred and thirty-six-thousand to one.

It is far more likely for someone to be struck by lightning, to be dealt a royal flush on their first ever hand of poker, or to go to the emergency room for a pogo stick accident ,than it is to be an Olympian. The odds are about as slim as one can imagine. In fact, only one other women's student-athlete has ever held this type of recognition in the history of UMES athletics.

Until this past year.

Against all odds, UMES women's track and field star Lenora Guion-Firmin, became the second Hawk woman to hold a roster spot at the Olympics this past summer.

She represented France in their 4x400 relay team at the London Summer Olympic Games. Although she did not actually run in the XXX Olympiad, the memories that she gained in London were beneficial to her character and track career.

It was an experience that she will never forget.

"Being an Olympian is my great achievement as an athlete," said Guion-Firmin. "It was such a privilege. It was a real dream come true."

Guion-Firmin grew up on the island of Martinique, a French province in the southern Carribbean that is sandwiched between Dominica and St. Lucia. Her family has ties for generations to the island and she shares a relationship with them that continues to motivate her to this day.

She runs because she loves it, but also competes because she wants to make her mother proud. Her success in college is most definately making her mother smile.

The senior sprinter received NCAA First-Team laurels after she placed eighth in the 400m at the NCAA Outdoor Track Championships this past spring. The All-American has already stamped her name in the record book as she holds school records in the 200m (23.49) and 400m (52.20). Last season, she became the first female NCAA All-American since UMES became a Division I member when she used a 53.30 time in the 400m to place eighth and qualify for the finals. In the finals, she ran a 53.42 to finish in seventh.

Guion-Firmin was the only female student-athlete from a Historically Black College or University to run in the Indoor Championships last season. She qualified for the indoor championships after she won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship with a 53.19 finish in the 400m.

She is a dual standout for the Hawks as she dominates the classroom much to the same level as she does the racing lanes. The exercise science major finished her junior year with a 4.0 grade point average and was named a USTFCCCA All-Academic honoree.

Despite her collegiate success, her journey in becoming a Hawk was not an easy one.

She began her collegiate career at the University of Tulsa, but would transfer to Princess Anne in the summer of 2011. Her decision during that time was one that would greatly aid both parties.

"UMES has helped me with my dream," said Guion-Firmin. "It was my only way, my last chance to get close to it."

Under the tutelage of head coach Ernest Barrett, Guion-Firmin has grown tremendously. Her work ethic has helped her standout and she has used her faith in God to build a strong foundation. She uses the word love in most of her everyday activities and stands by the belief that "God only gives us what we can handle".

Amazing is probably the most appropriate word to describe Guion-Firmin's journey through life the past few years. The successful combination of athletics and academics has set her up for a positive future.

"On my island, we like to say "L'homme propose, Dieu dispose", said Guion-Firmin. "It stands for "man proposes and God disposes. Life is full of unpredictable events and I don't know where I will be. But, I will be where I should be."

Everyone within UMES athletics is excited to see Guion-Firmin continue her trek towards her dream of winning a gold medal. Such a feat is not out of reach for a student-athlete that possesses such a healthy ambition and love for her sport.

For complete recaps, results and news of Hawk athletics, please visit www.umeshawks.com

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