Emma Negri at the Canadian U20 Championships
Chatham

Blenheim teen bound for Florida

The Paris Olympics might not have even started yet, but 16-year-old thrower Emma Negri has her sights on the 2032 games in Brisbane.

"I know definitely 2032 will be my year," said Emma.

Emma is already a very accomplished athlete, but to help get her one step closer to her Olympic dreams, the Blenheim teen is saying 'goodbye' to Ursuline College Chatham and 'hello' to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida at the end of August.

"I'm very very close to my parents, I know being away from them will be hard on me," said Emma. "But I know I'm going to adapt and adjust to people and a new setting."

IMG Academy is a sports-orientated school, that provides athletes with the skills they need on and off the playing field.

"The number one thing is we wanted to surround Emma with like-minded people and put her in an environment where she would thrive athletically and academically," said Emma's dad Darren Negri. "They put a lot of emphasis on the entire athlete not just training, lifting, doing their sport. They do a lot of sport psychology, leadership training... that was a big piece of it, we wanted to immerse her in that environment."

IMG Academy started as a school for tennis with alumni like Venus Williams, Serena Williams, and Andre Agassi. The academy now offers many sports including football, basketball, and track and field.

The list of impressive alumni doesn't intimidate the young athlete.

"It's more inspiring to me to see the types of people who have come out of this school," Emma stated.

Emma Negri at IMG Academy (courtesy: Instagram/emma.negri.throws)

Emma has been throwing since she was nine.

When she first started out, her dad, a former thrower himself, was her coach. Emma was also playing hockey at the time, but everyone soon realized throwing was her thing.

"The first year was kind of see how it goes, and then she got into her second year and she started to get into more meets up in the Toronto area," said Emma's mom Krista Negri. "We had to make a decision. Do we want to continue with hockey and track is a side burner? And a decision was made she wanted to go with track."

One thing Emma loves about the sport is that there is a large sense of community.

"You can be from a different country, you could be from halfway across the world and you will get along so well," said Emma. "Everybody knows everybody, they are always there to help each other. If I don't have a coach present to help me somebody else's coach will come help me."

But don't let that make you think she isn't in it to win it. Emma still has a healthy level of competition.

"I really like the competitiveness. I've always been a competitive person," said Emma. "Being competitive in something other than school, or other sports, I really enjoy that. Especially since everyone I'm competing against are my close friends."

Emma Negri with her three gold medals at the Athletics Ontario Provincial Championships in London, ON (courtesy:Instagram/emma.negri.throws)

Despite all her records, broken records, medals and trophies, when she first started in the sport, Emma couldn't have fathomed the Olympics were a possibility.

"I started noticing 'Hey I'm really good at this. Maybe I should take it more seriously,'" Emma said. "Up until like three years ago, I started thinking maybe I could be an Olympian someday, maybe I could get a gold medal at the Olympics. I never thought I was that good."

But she is that good.

Most recently, Emma won a silver medal for discus and a bronze in hammer throw at the Canadian U20 National Track & Field Championships in Montreal.

"I thought I was good enough to go to the US, go to a division three, division two school. But I never thought I would be talking to the highest tier of division one schools now," explained Emma.

At 16, Emma is already talking to some pretty big post-secondary schools.

"It might change in the next two years, but I'm thinking right now of becoming a nurse," she said.

For now, Emma looks forward to finishing off the summer in Blenheim, spending time with her family and friends, and recuperating after a busy season.

She does have one plan for the next few weeks, getting her nails done. Something she doesn't get to do while she is training and competing.

"I never get to get acrylic nails so I'm going to get some done," laughed Emma.

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