UCLA senior track and field stand-out Ismail Turner knows how to compete and study at a high level. He was recently named on the Pac-12 2023 Winter Academic Honor Roll; Turner is an economics major.
“It’s definitely a big accomplishment, especially doing economics, coming from a STEM background,” Turner said. “It means a lot to me and hopefully continue to inspire people who also want to pursue high-level athletics and academics.”
Turner competes in the 100m, 200m, 400m, the 4x100m relay and the 4x400m relay events. He helped the 4x400m relay squad come in third place with a 2:59.25 time at the Texas relays. Their performance broke a 35-year-old school record.
“It’s easier almost to achieve success individually within the sport,” Turner said. “It feels really good and really proud to be like we came through and were able to compete around and sometimes better than what the people ahead of us were.”
At the Rafer Johnson-Jackie Joyner Kersee Invitational, Turner came in second place at the 200m with a 21.09s time. He ran the 400m in 45.13 seconds at the Mt. SAC Relays, putting him in second place. Turner also came in fourth place in the 100m at the Dual meet against USC.
One lesson he learned from his coaches is that his training and preparation will keep his body from failing him during heats.
“What it takes to just prepare for big races week in and week out and competing at some of the higher levels of these meets, you don’t always feel very good,” Turner said. “Just knowing that your body won’t fail you and that you have done all the preparation, all your practice and hard work and long days on the track and in the weight room, you just have to bring it out of yourself.”
In 2022, Turner made Team USA after competing in the 400m at the USATF Outdoor Championships.
“I was able to soak up a lot of knowledge from some of the vets on Team USA and some of the people that were at the meet and a lot of the great coaches,” Turner said.
Throughout his time at UCLA, Turner noticed that he improved his consistency in academics and athletics.
“Being a student athlete, especially at UCLA with these different exams and midterm season, these fast-paced quarters, it’s very hard to stay consistent,” Turner said. “If you’re doing well in your classes, you’d be less stressed, you’d be in a better mental state going into your races.”
Turner’s favorite class is an economics class that focuses on the theories of development. In the class, students come up with ways that developing nations can improve their economic standing.
“It was pretty interesting to learn about because my mother is from Kenya,” Turner said. “I was able to pick Kenya as my country and figure out what’s their most optimal thing to improve so that they can become a more well-developed economy and hopefully, overall better country.”