Friendship bracelets, glitter, and frilly pink dresses are part of the stereotypical life of nine year old girls in America. Identical twins and Castro Valley residents Anna and Maya Dughi are breaking free from this mold, however, and making a name for themselves as more than ordinary schoolkids. They’ve taken up and excelled at distance running, becoming two of the fastest nine-year-olds in the nation.
Anna and Maya placed eighth and 27th, respectively, in the Junior Nationals in 2015, which took place in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Maya’s personal record in the 1,500 meter race was an astonishing 5:40, and Anna’s best time was 5:17, a time faster than many runners at the high school level, giving her the venerated title of “fastest 9 year old girl in America.”
They haven’t become complacent though. The girls continue to set goals and constantly striving for self-improvement. The girls practice six hours a week with Castro Valley Track Club, on top of training in swimming and tennis.
The twins also have great sportsmanship, not letting competition get in the way of their amicable personalities.
“They’re always friendly with the people they run with, and against, giving them high fives after races,” said their father Bruce Dughi.
More impressive still, the girls have a very good sense of teamwork, as Maya showed in describing a relay race.
“It was a 4×400 relay: me, Anna, Gianna and Angelina, two of our teammates. The first time we ran it we qualified, but got second. We wanted to do better, and get first,” recalled Maya about the 2015 USA Track and Field Region 14 Championship meet.
“Coach let us pick our order, so our two teammates went first, then Maya, then me,” continued Anna.
In that race, Maya had come back from over 50 meters behind, and closed the gap so that Anna could finish for the win.
Running isn’t the only thing these girls think about though.
“When we grow up we want to write books together,” said Anna excitedly. “I can be the illustrator and she can write the books.”
Brother and CVHS junior Alec Dughi is very supportive of his sisters’ endeavors. The siblings have a great relationship, with both twins adoring their understanding older brother, constantly looking up to him as a role model.
Though it seems far in the future, the girls plan to attend CVHS and run for the CVHS cross country and track teams, and potentially join the swim team as well. But first, they’ll have to make it past middle school.