By LARRY VAUGHT
Chloe Abbott was a three-time first team All-American sprinter when she transferred from Purdue to Kentucky after coach Lonnie Green, who recruited her at Purdue, left to become the coach at Kentucky last summer.
She’s a 400-meter dash specialist but Abbott is also a theater major/vocal performance minor who made a huge impression last month when she sang the national anthem before the Kentucky-Texas A&M basketball game in Rupp Arena. She had to audition to get the invitation to sing and then get permission from Green to miss practice so she could sing.
“Coach was all for it,” Abbott said. “When I first heard about it, I thought, ‘How many people get a chance to do something like this? I don’t have a lot of time on my own to travel and audition because of track. Being able to perform in front of more than 20,000 people on a Tuesday night while still doing track was like the perfect storm. I jumped at the chance and was lucky enough to get picked. Now I hope I get to do it again.”
Based on the reception she got in Rupp Arena, that certainly would suit Kentucky fans.
“The fan reaction was fun. It gave me validation that I was able to do well. I was glad I could perform in a way that the audience appreciated,” Abbott, who is from Detroit, said. “I know a lot of people think some singers are cocky and big-headed. It was nice to know what I did was appreciated.”
She got to sing the national anthem before a Purdue basketball game before her transfer in front of about 14,000. However, she said that was “way scarier” than singing in front o more people at Rupp Arena.
“At Rupp Arena you can only see a certain amount of people,” Abbott said. “It didn’t seem as intimidating. At Purdue, I could see everything. It shocked me at first and was my first time to sing in front of that many people. At Rupp I was not so scared that I thought I might drop the mic. It was really fun and I would love to do it again.”
Abbott, who would like to perform on Broadway, is far from ordinary on the track. She set numerous records at Purdue during her All-American career in the 400 and 4×400 relay. She ran the second fastest time in the 400 at Purdue in 51.57 seconds in the NCAA.
The junior says she is training better now than she ever had and is learning to maintain speed and running better times earlier in the season than she ever had. She also says being in the SEC where track is “not just something to get a degree and get through college” but is a sport with big-time athletes and a lot of attention has motivated her.
She’s already part of a UK 4×400 relay team that finished in 3 minutes, 32.15 seconds at Arkansas — the nations’ fourth best indoor time this season.
Her specialty is the 400 where she wants to hit 51 seconds during indoor season so she can get down to 49 seconds outdoors.
“That has been my goal since before college,” Abbott said. “You are going to see a lot more improvement from me here at Kentucky. I want to leave my mark and knock people off that (school record) board just like I did at Purdue.”