Long practice days of heat, sweat and dedication all paid off for former Houston track star Mario Burke.
Burke now makes his wildest dreams come to life by being a professional track athlete.
“I just kept winning and winning and got a scholarship,” Burke said. “And now I’m in the pros, and it’s a good feeling.”
Burke is a 22-year-old alumnus with a bachelor’s degree in business management. Being able to manage school work and track practice paid off for Burke as he recently signed to be a professional Nike and Red Bull athlete.
Burke’s childhood days were filled with family, fun and friends in Barbados, his home country. From cricket to soccer, sports were a big part of Burke’s childhood.
“I wasn’t as fortunate as most other children were,” Burke said. “All my wants, I didn’t necessarily get all of them, but I never needed for anything. My family always took care of me and made sure I had food and clothes on my back.”
Only about 2 percent of college track and field athletes are signed to the pros, Burke said, and his hard work is what lead him to being part of this statistic.
“I was 10, and my dad not forced me but advised me to do it,” Burke said. “So I just tried it out and the rest was history.”
Burke was offered a full-ride scholarship to Houston. He packed his bags in 2015, not forgetting his three essential items: headphones, his lucky red socks and fruit snacks.
He made his name known for running the 100-meter dash, making his mark on the track by being the two-time NCAA champion and former collegiate record holder in the 100-meter dash.
He also accomplished being the two-time Barbados National Champion in the same running event. Burke ran in the World Junior Championship and won the U20 bronze medal, and made his father Vincent Burke proud.
“Seeing my son showing so much enthusiasm to do something made me eager to play a role in it,” Vincent Burke said. “No matter the case I always wanted to make sure that he had much more opportunities than I had, so to see how the hard work has finally paid off is truly a dream come true.”
While Mario Burke ran for Houston, he not only shine on the track but also made his mark in the classroom. He was the 2019 Male Academic Cougar of the Year.
Mario Burke is the first in his family to graduate from a university and sign to be a professional athlete. Whether being in the same country or 2,500 miles away from home, Burke continues to make his mother Marvo Burke proud in everything he does.
“I am extremely proud of Mario and all that he has done these past four years he has been in Houston,” Marvo Burke said. “Having your son not only leave home but go to another country is always something difficult to experience, but Mario puts my fears away with the way he carries himself.”
Mario Burke said as a kid he always knew he was fast but never knew how fast. Little did he know then he would now be preparing for his next track meet in Doha, Qatar.
The World Track and Field Championships are taking place, and Mario Burke will be competing in the 100 and 200-meter dashes.
“Never give up or lose sight on your dreams,” Mario Burke said. “No matter the circumstances that may present themselves, always stay in the course and stay focused. Hard work and loads of dedication is always a necessity.”