When Olympic hurdler Jasmine Camacho-Quinn kneels down in the starting blocks, her mind and heart are racing. But once the gun goes off, her body slips into autopilot, a type of flow, and she does what she does best. This past summer what she did was win a gold medal, becoming the first Afro-Latina to do so while representing her mother’s native Puerto Rico.
Since that historic victory, Camacho-Quinn, who was born to a Black-American father and raised in South Carolina, has partnered with Buchanan’s Scotch Whisky for their campaign “What Glory We Are” to celebrate the unique duality of being both 100% Hispanic and 100% American.
Camacho-Quinn shared that the campaign lets people know “We’re out there and we’re here to stay.” She says that when it comes to her blended identity, there are always people who have questions or want to assert their identity qualifications, deeming her not Hispanic enough, not American enough.
“But when it comes down to it,” she says, “you can’t let other people define who you are. At the end of the day, I’m both. Nobody can take that away from me.”
Representing this identity was particularly important during her second appearance at the Olympics.
In 2016, Camacho-Quinn was a freshman in college. She made it to the semi-final in the Olympic 100-meter hurdle race in Rio but she hit a hurdle and was disqualified. While it took a toll on her mentally, she had to put it out of her mind in order to overcome it and take home the gold in Tokyo.
“I tried my best,” she says. “I was doing everything I could to perfect what I do. I had to not let it control me and go out there and do exactly what I had been doing in meets before the Olympics. I think it worked out.”
It did. Not only did Camacho-Quinn secure the gold, but she was also able to represent for Afro-Latinas on the podium, donning Puerto Rico’s Flor de Maga, the national flower, in her afro puff.
“Honestly, I didn’t want the flower to be bigger than my bun so I put the hair out,” she says. “That’s how I was thinking. And [the bun] is not my hair. So I thought, let me put it up like this and have it kind of in an afro. Once I did that with the flower, and of course my lashes and my hoops, I’m being myself.”
Camacho-Quinn wasn’t attempting to make a statement with her look. But seeing herself later, on camera, she understood the importance of the moment.
“[When I saw myself on camera] it made me cry more. I’m representing people that look like me. It does matter,” she says. “It was different seeing myself on camera. I thought, this is a strong image. And I guess it was because a lot of people made art behind my image. But I didn’t consciously think about it. I just knew this was myself.”
Now that she’s won Olympic gold, Camacho-Quinn isn’t resting on her laurels.
“I’m hungry for more. I got my gold medal. Now I want other medals,” she says. “I got my Olympic gold medal, now I want World Championship gold medals. I want the world record. I want the World Championship record.”
“I want to be legendary,” she adds. “I want to be one of the women that I used to look up to. I want to be what Gail Devers was to me. So I am looking forward to more records, more medals and that legendary status.”
You can learn more about Buchanan’s Scotch Whisky campaign “What Glory We Are” here.