Bionca St. Fleur’s grandfather came to the United States with $100 in his pocket and a desire for a better life. He left his wife of two days in Haiti to establish his stake in the United States.
About a year later, the junior sprinter and jumper’s grandmother joined her husband, and the two worked tirelessly to raise their two daughters. Their story of hard work has been St. Fleur’s inspiration in running and life.
“My grandparents worked so hard to get here, so I have to take advantage of anything I can,” St. Fleur said. “They are such a big influence, and they have always pushed us to do things.”
This motivation from her family has helped St. Fleur realize her potential and find strength throughout her running career thus far.
St. Fleur was initially involved in swimming until her sixth-grade gym teacher noticed her athleticism during a game of capture the flag.
She grew to love track & field and found success in the sport. She attended Melrose High School in Massachusetts where she helped lead the team to two undefeated seasons her junior and senior year.
“Junior year, I was crazy about going to college for track,” St. Fleur said. “That’s really when you show coaches what you can do. At the rate I was running, I knew I was doing well but needed to continue to work hard, so I could get into good schools.”
During a race that season, St. Fleur was anchoring the 200-meter relay for the team when she pulled her hamstring mid-race. Despite the injury, St. Fleur endured the pain and finished her leg, winning the relay.
“After that, a lot of people would have stopped, but at that point we were already winning, so I didn’t want to stop,” St. Fleur said.
“Athletes are taught to operate under a little duress in regards to the level of pain tolerance,” coach Elvis Forde added. “She has a very high level of pain tolerance.”
Hours of rehab and dedication that came from a passion for the sport helped nurture St. Fleur back to running condition.
“She’s a very determined person, and that’s one of the qualities that has carried her through to this point,” Forde said. “She wants to be better, and she works hard.”
St. Fleur holds the records at Melrose in the long jump, the 100 and the 200. After her senior season in 2013, she was named Middlesex All-League, and the Boston Globe awarded her All Scholastic honors.
While St. Fleur, who set the school-record time in the 200 on Feb. 14, 2015, at the Boston University David Hemery Valentine Invitational, went into her freshman year at Temple with lots of excitement, she was disappointed with how things were going under former coach Eric Mobley, who resigned later that year surrounding abuse and misconduct accusations.
“It almost made me never want to run track ever again,” St. Fleur said. “I was thinking about quitting. I decided to stay because I was hoping we were getting a new coach. My family has always believed that if you have a gift, a talent, you don’t waste it.”
Maura Razanauskas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.