This piece is on the Staten Islander Olga Kosichenko, the 7th that Jeff Benjamin wrote on athletes competing in the 2021 NB Indoor GP, which is being held at Ocean Breeze, on Staten Island.
Back in 1987 local track and sports fans waited with anticipation as ABC broadcasted live the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships 1500 Meter race.
The reason? One of our own was competing.
New Dorp HS Alum and Indiana University Star Charlie Marsala lined up with world-class milers, notably Steve Scott and Jim Spivey in San Jose, California.
“Charlie ran an unbelievable last 300 meters,” said his high school coach Bill Welsh. “He came from way back and took 3rd place behind Spivey and Scott!”
In a tactical race Marsala’s finishing kick rewarded him with a world-class time of 3:44.73 over the metric mile that day.
That race propelled Marsala onto the national and world scene for close to 5 years, as the Staten Island Sports Hall of Famer would eventually break 4 minutes for the mile (the only local athlete to do so!) and run 3:37 over 1500 meters, the equivalent of a 3:53 – 3:54 mile!
“Charlie proved he belonged there!,” said Welsh, the 91 years-young fellow Hall of Famer.
Fast forward to 2021 and once again one of the borough’s own will be competing on NBC and against some of the world’s best.
Olga Kosichenko is entered to compete in the Women’s 500 meters in this Saturday’s New Balance Grand Prix Indoor meet and, unlike Marsala in 1987, she will have a home field advantage.
Kosichenko, who competes for the elite Central Park Track Club, is no stranger to the top levels of competition, as the veteran competitor has competed in some National Championships before, notably the 2019 USATF Indoor Championships which were held in Ocean Breeze.
“My training has been very consistent and we had a great week of training in Florida,” said Kosichenko.
“My coach, Devon Martin and the CPTC team has been amazing and very motivating and this time I am actually excited to run.”
The field of the women’s 500 includes Leah Anderson, Brenna Detra and Top Sports Star Sydney McLaughlin. The youngest track and field Olympian since 1972 at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the New Jersey native McLaughlin earned her first world championship medal when she battled with Olympic champion and world record holder Dalilah Muhammad and ran the third-fastest time in history in 52.23 seconds to take a silver medal in the 400 hurdles.
“I usually get nervous before races , but I definitely feel more excited than nervous,” said Kosichenko assessing the field. “I don’t know how much longer I will be able to continue training and racing at this level – so I am trying to embrace it all.”
An RN for Health and Hospital for their testing and vaccination program, Kosichenko also does case management for a home care company and has been in the front lines of the COVID crisis.
“It’s been an unusual experience,” said Kosichenko, whose local victories include the Memorial Day run and Lou Marli Thanksgiving Day Race. “But I am happy to be a part of the solution.”
“Running and experiencing the sport at high level like this- feels like a gift, so I am very excited and grateful for this opportunity.”â€¨â€¨
“Olga is a great runner a d deserves to be in that world-class field,” said Welsh, remembering his protÃ©gÃ©s breakthrough 34 years ago.
“She’s shoulder to shoulder with them and she brings Staten Island to the World-Class level.”
Although no live spectators are allowed, the 2021 New Balance Grand Prix will be shown live on NBC from 4 to 6. P.m. on Saturday, February 13th. The event is the only gold-level U.S. stop on the World Athletics Indoor Tour.
For further information check out https://www.nbindoorgrandprix.com