Q&A: Getting to know Providence High’s hurdles record-holder Jordan Javadi

by C. Jemal Horton

Jordan Javadi won the Class 4A state title in the 110-meter hurdles this spring. C. Jemal Horton/SCW photo

Jordan Javadi is good at a lot of things, but pulling punches isn’t one of them.

Ask Javadi a question, and the recent Providence High graduate gives you the unfiltered truth, whether it’s about the type of salary he desires or whether he gets overlooked by his track competition because he’s a “skinny white kid (and) kinda short.”

Javadi also was the best 110-meter hurdler in the state this season, having sprinted to the Class 4A title in 14.21 seconds last month.

Recently, he sat down with South Charlotte Weekly to talk about his high school career, his future as a hurdler at UNC Asheville and several other ­topics.

Q: How did it feel to become a state champion?
A: I came into the state meet thinking, ‘I’m just trying to get top three. I’ll be happy if I get a medal.’ Then after (the preliminaries), I think I was seeded first or second going into the finals.

I didn’t have a good start. I was near the back, probably around fourth place. And then, slowly I’m getting close to first place. Finally, over the last two (hurdles), I was tied for first. After the last one, we were neck-and-neck. At the very end, I just leaned. Right when I crossed, I heard the announcer go, ‘And that’s Javadi with the lean!’ I was like, ‘Yesssss!’

Q: Could you tell you were on a personal-record pace?
A: It’s weird. When I run, I either feel like I’m running fast or I’m running slow. At the (New Balance) national meet, which I just ran, I felt fast. But it ends up, I ran the same time that I ran my junior year.

I’ve been training by myself since school got out, and that sucks. That’s not fun. I haven’t had competition, so I haven’t been training all that well, and I’m not in the best shape to compete at a national meet. If I had run at the national meet what I ran at the state meet, I would’ve gotten, like, second or third. I ended up getting fourth. A guy from Canada won – although I’m not sure how you can compete in the American nationals when you’re from Canada.

Q: When did you start running track?
A: In eighth grade. I tried out in seventh grade, but I didn’t make the team. I was (ticked) off, but I don’t think it was personal. In eighth grade, I made the team and won the conference.

My brother, Kamran, got me interested in the sport.

Q: What makes you so effective?
A: With me, it’s more of a technical thing. I’m not going to lie: Most, if not all the kids in the state finals probably could beat me in the open (100-meter dash); I’m not the fastest kid. But my coach (Steve Touranjoe) and other people have told me that my hurdle form is probably the best they’ve seen. I’m short, but being technically sound is what gets me to win. I like the challenge.

Q: How big are you?
A: I’m 5 (foot) 10, 140 (pounds). So I’m short, and I don’t put on muscle. It’s weird. I think my metabolism just doesn’t like muscles.

Q: You said your brother got you interested in hurdles. Has he helped you?
A: We’re kind of closer now, but we’ve never been really close. He’s three years older than me. For track stuff, he’s definitely helped me a lot. When I was in eighth grade, he’d finish his high school practice and then come and help me and one other kid that did the hurdles at Jay M. Robinson. Then, my freshman year and his senior year, he got hurt, so he still came to practice every day and helped me do stuff.

He had me doing stuff that (ticked) me off at the time. He was my ride home, so he would say stuff like, ‘We’re not leaving until you get over every hurdle without hitting one.’ I was extremely (ticked) off, but now I realize there was a purpose. Now, when I do my own workouts, I’ll focus on things like not touching the hurdles.

Q: Have you ever thanked him?
A: Not really.

Q: You mentioned being small. Do you think people size you up at the starting line and figure they can beat you?
A: I know they do. Everybody’s sizing each other up. I’ll look at people and say (to myself), ‘Oh, he might be good. He’s probably good. He’s probably not that good.’ So I’m sure they look at me and think, ‘OK, skinny white kid, kinda short – oh, I got this!’ And then I come out and they’re surprised. You just look at their faces and see how (ticked) they are.

At the national meet, after I ran, this really tall black guy comes up to me and said, ‘Man, you’re fast as (heck)!’

When they’re looking at me and  thinking they can beat me, they’re not doing it to be impolite. It’s just sports and competition.

Q: How’d you wind up signing with UNC Asheville?
A: I really wanted to go to (UNC) Chapel Hill – I’m glad I didn’t now because of things my brother told me about how hard it is. I’m not trying to be a doctor. I applied there and got denied, and I said, ‘OK, that’s cool. I don’t really care.’

Two people from (Providence) – Lauren Baker and John Bellard – go to Asheville. Lauren told me that the coach was interested in me and that he wanted me to e-mail him. I e-mailed him, and he asked me to send him some stuff, so I sent him some track stuff and an unofficial transcript. I applied to the school, got accepted, and then I took a visit. It was kind of random. It just kind of happened. But I actually like the campus. The facilities are nice.

Q: Do you know what you want to study?
A: I want to major in psychology, and that’s (UNC Asheville’s) top major. Why not go to a school where your major is the school’s No. 1 major, so you know that (the school) has a good program?

I really wanted to be a social worker at first, because I like working with kids and abused children. But then, I realized you get paid nothing. I really do want to do it, but they get paid, like, $28,000 or $30,000. I can’t live off that. So now I’m leaning toward being a substance-abuse counselor until I get my Ph.D or my masters – I’m not sure which one I’m going to get – and then move on to clinical psychology, where you can work in prisons or psych ­hospitals and stuff.

Q: What are you like off the track?
A: I’m completely different, probably, from what you’d think. I play a lot of video games. I just built my first computer. I’ve been wanting to build one forever, so I said, ‘I’ve got all this graduation money coming in, so I’ll do it.’ It cost me under $400. I was looking to do a budget gaming computer. I put a Core i3 processor in there, I bought a graphics card for under 50 bucks that runs any of the games I put on it. I’m really happy. That was a great venture.

I also watch TV and read. I’m not always thinking, ‘Let’s go run! Let’s go jump some hurdles!’

Q: Finish this sentence: Ten years from now, Jordan Javadi will be …
A: Hopefully, either running my own practice or just working as some type of psychological counselor. Maybe coaching or working with kids. I’ve thought about being a teacher before. I know they don’t make much money, but they probably make more than social ­workers.

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