Purdue Track and Field star Chloe Abbott is no stranger to the spotlight, so when she performed the national anthem at the men’s basketball game against Maryland, she was ready for the attention.
Abbott’s mother told her she started singing before she could even speak. Her father was a singer in their church’s choir, so she always saw him practicing and singing around the house.
With an ingrained competitive spirit, she wanted to be better than him, so she would practice for hours on her own time. Once she found out she had quite the voice, she realized her potential.
“I ended up getting more and more into it as I grew older and then tried to turn it into something that I can do for my life,” Abbott said.
In high school, she had to choose between sports and singing, but her father explained how one could lead to the other.
“I really wanted to get into college, you know, and I knew that with theater you’re not going to get a whole bunch of money unless you’re Beyoncé,” Abbot said. “So my dad was like, ‘We’re going to focus on this and we’ll use track to get you to where you need to be, where you really want to go.’”
By choosing only one, Abbott was able to focus her full attention on athletics and became a star on the track team. In high school, she was nominated for Gatorade Player of the Year, placed third in the Junior Olympics her junior year and won three state championships in her senior year.
The success didn’t stop there, as she continued dominating in college. Abbott’s signature events are the 400-meter sprint and the 4x400-meter relay, both of which she holds top-five school records in.
As a second team All-American on the 4x400-meter indoor relay team that finished 10th in the NCAA championships, she also competed at the USA Track & Field Junior Championships, where she finished sixth. She ran a personal best time of 52.68 seconds in the 400 dash, second fastest in school history.
In the conference season, she was named to the first team All-Big Ten indoors, was a champion on the 4x400-meter relay team, and has the third-best school record in the indoor 400-meter dash.
With all of these honors, Abbott is setting high expectations for herself. She wants to go to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
“It kind of falls perfectly because I don’t have to choose whether I go pro,” Abbott said. “It’s the end of my college career, ... so I just decided I’m going to get to the point where I can actually run the Olympics to finish off my senior year to go out with a bang to finish for my coach.”
While competing as a college athlete, she has been able to sing the national anthem at almost all of the invites they went to. She also sang the anthem at a women’s basketball game last year.
But this performance has fed her desire more than ever.
“The whole thing happened and when (the crowd) cheered before I was finished, in my head, I’m like, ‘OK, OK, what’s going on? Why is this so loud?’” Abbott said. “I saw my friends on the (basketball team) cheering me on. I saw my team up in the stands cheering me on. I see coaches, Mike Bobinski, and my coach and all these people, this is like a rush of love and excitement. It was crazy.”
While she doesn’t have any plans to sing at more basketball games, she is hoping to sing at the football spring game. She does want to promote herself as more of a singer now after the response she received on social media.
“I started seeing the video starting to go around a couple times and then NCAA track and field started retweeting me,” Abbott said. “These people that I’m normally obsessed with on Twitter, they’re starting to like my video. I got a taste of getting retweets and faves and likes and all that exposure and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, I want so much more of this.’
“All of that exposure really gave me more confidence to go out and really market myself a little bit more and just because I don’t have a lot of time doesn’t mean that I can’t do it.”