Polar Bear of the Week: Kianne Benjamin ’24
March 3, 2023
Last weekend, Kianne Benjamin ’24 broke her own school record and took second place in the 200m at the New England DIII Indoor Track and Field Championships in Boston, Mass. Benjamin also placed third in the 60m and anchored the winning 4x400m relay.
These results come after Benjamin’s strong showing at the Maine State Meet on February 4, when she won both the 60m and 200m races and received the George Towle award for highest points scored. Benjamin is eager to continue running her best and hopefully compete for Bowdoin at the upcoming NCAA DIII Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Benjamin grew up in the Commonwealth of Dominica, where she began running competitively in middle school.
When it came time to apply to college, Benjamin sought to find a place where she could balance running track, studying marine biology and getting involved with on-campus clubs and affinity groups.
“Bowdoin was a perfect fit for me in that it allowed me to pursue my interests academically and athletically. I really care about the environment. I also care a lot about my culture and want people [to] feel like they can be their whole selves,” she said. “Organizations like the Student Organization for Caribbean Awareness, Black Student Union and Sunrise Movement really stuck out to me. This is a place [where] I can find people that I can relate to, create [with] and educate people about other places.”
Benjamin’s running career extends beyond the College. Last year, Benjamin qualified for the 100-meter dash at the inaugural Caribbean Games in Guadeloupe. She was unable to compete due to injury but loved representing her country and connecting with Dominican culture.
“One of the best experiences I’ve had in the past four years is going home to compete, but also to interact with people from the Caribbean.… I hope to continue representing Dominica as my career progresses,” Benjamin said.
Benjamin’s track career has also been influenced and inspired by Thea LaFond, a Dominican triple jumper who recently competed in the 2022 Summer Olympic Games.
“Seeing [LaFond] advance all the way to the international level at the Olympics really encourages me to keep going, to trust the process and to put in the work every single day,” Benjamin said.
Alongside the inspirations she has found at the Caribbean Games and in LaFond, Benjamin attributes her relationships with her coaches as integral to her track and field accomplishments.
“I’m representing Bowdoin, but I’m also representing Dominica. My coaches have been very supportive of that [and] continue to nurture my talent in a way that is beneficial to my career goals.… [They] just want you to be the best version of yourself,” she said.
Benjamin also remarked that the track team’s inclusive environment has supported her multiple identities and created a space that fosters growth.
“I like that we hype each other up at every step of the way. Whether you’re injured, or this is your first time running in two weeks or you’ve been running for 10 years, that doesn’t affect the type of interactions that we have as a team,” she said. “Your individual nature is encouraged and valuable.”
Off the track, Benjamin tries to maintain an intentional training regimen and a productive mentality.
“It’s not necessarily always what you do in practice, but also what you do outside of practice: how you spend your time, how you eat, how you sleep. [It’s] what you give out, but also what you take in from the world around you and how you carry yourself,” Benjamin said.
Benjamin is hoping to compete at the NCAA DIII Indoor Track and Field Championships in Birmingham, Ala., next Saturday. She is currently ranked in the top-10 DIII runners in the nation in the 60m and 200m. The top 20 runners each year qualify for the event. The selections will be announced sometime next week. Benjamin placed third in the 200m at Nationals last season.
“I’m really excited and really grateful that I can compete at a meet of such high intensity. I hope to have a lot of fun and to make myself and my country proud, [alongside] my coaches and the wider Bowdoin community,” Benjamin said. “I’ll definitely be putting my heart out on the track.”
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