Get to know Nia Ali, the Germantown native who hurdled her way into Olympics history

United States' silver medal winner Nia Ali poses with her 15-months old son Titus after the women's 100-meter hurdles final

United States' silver medal winner Nia Ali poses with her 15-months old son Titus after the women's 100-meter hurdles final

Here’s a glimpse of the gutsy Philly girl who overcame obstacles on the track and at home on her way to Olympic glory

In just 12.59 seconds, Philadelphia’s own Nia Ali hurdled her way into Olympics history in Rio Wednesday, winning the silver medal in the women’s 100-meter hurdles. With Americans Brianna Rollins taking the gold and Kristi Castlin, the bronze, it was the United States’ first sweep in the event.

Here’s a glimpse of the gutsy Philly girl who overcame obstacles on the track and at home on her way to Olympic glory:

Ali, 27, grew up in Germantown and moved to Pleasantville, New Jersey, for her senior year, graduating from Pleasantville High School in 2006. She now lives in Los Angeles.

Dancing and running were childhood passions. She began running at age 6 with Philadelphia’s Mallery Challengers Track Club.

She went to the University of Tennessee, where she competed on the Tennessee Volunteers team, and later the University of Southern California, where she was the 2011 NCAA leader and champion for the USC Trojans in the 100-meter hurdles.

Tragedy temporarily derailed her dreams when she was at USC. Her father, Aleem Ali, died in a 2009 murder-suicide in West Oak Lane. The incident, in which Ali gunned down his mistress in front of her 11-year-old daughter and then turned the gun on himself, it so devastated Ali that she didn’t compete in 2010.

She can run – and win – a race in the time it takes you to brush your teeth. At the 2014 USA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for example, she won the 60-meter hurdles in 7.80 seconds.

She’s a mother. Son Titus Maximus was born in May 2015. “We wanted a strong-sounding name,” Ali told Spikes of the Roman-sounding name. The 15-month-old joined his mother for a victory lap after her silver-medal run yesterday, wearing a red “Team USA” shirt and a wide grin. The boy’s father is Olympics hurdler Michael Tinsley, who won a silver medal in the 2012 Games. 

A friend nicknamed Ali “Pooda” in college, and the name stuck. (It’s her Twitter handle.)

She loves Oprah Winfrey, telling NBC-10: “I love what she stands for. I am very into finance and building a brand and building a legacy for the people behind you. Her charity and everything that she does, I just love her.”

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