Devon Allen finished second in his heat to advance to the semifinals of the men’s 110-meter hurdles at the Rio Olympic games. After waiting out a rain delay, Allen qualified with a time of 13.41 seconds on Monday to earn a spot in tonight’s semifinal event.
The 21-year-old American is a two-sport athlete at the University of Oregon– playing wide receiver on the football team, and competing in track and field.
“It’s my first Olympic Games. I’m a young kid getting ready to run my first race in history. My adrenaline was up there,” he told USA Today.
As he continues his quest for his first Olympic medal, his family will be there cheering him on. Here’s everything you need to know about Allen’s sister, Carissa.
1. She Is Allen’s Fraternal Twin
Allen and Carissa were born in Seattle on December 12, 1994. They were born two months premature and stayed in the hospital for a month due to breathing issues, according to UWire.
However, it didn’t take long for the two to discover their love for sports. Allen began playing football at 10 years old.
“Sometimes we have our parent goggles on and think our kids can do everything, but I’m just speaking the truth,” their father, Louis told UWire.
2. Allen Has Said She Is the Better Athlete
Born seven hours apart, fraternal twins Allen and Carissa grew up as best friends. Their father can’t even recall the two fighting, as he told Oregon Live.
Allen and Carissa always shared a passion for athletics, and a will to win. Throughout their childhood they were multi-sport athletes– playing soccer, baseball and basketball together.
“We always did sports together,” Allen told the website, “and she was always the better athlete.”
Carissa said teammates referred to them as “the twins.”
“It was definitely a really good experience to share with him,” she told Oregon Live. “He helps a lot on the court, and on the soccer field.”
3. She Plays Volleyball For Northwest Christian University
Allen and his sister, who both wear No. 13 for their respective teams, each have a tattoo of its Roman numeral.
Carissa excelled as a multi-sport athlete, playing five sports in high school, notes Oregon Live. She currently plays volleyball at Northwest Christian University.
In 2016, Carissa played in 18 matches for the Beacons as a junior, collecting 83 kills which ranked fifth on the team.
While attending Central High in Phoenix, she earned all-region honors during all four years, and was an all-state honorable mention as a senior.
4. The Longest They’ve Been Apart Was in College
The longest Allen and Carissa have ever been apart was during their first two years in college. Carissa was attending Phoenix College, while Allen was at Oregon. Carissa transferred last summer, and now they live a mile apart, according to Oregon Live.
“My two years in Arizona were definitely difficult because I didn’t get to see his games. It was hard, but I’m glad now because I’m so close,” Carissa told the website.
“We always talk to each other, and we can do it over the phone. But it’s different when you see someone’s face,” Allen told Oregon Live.
5. Their Father Said the Family Has Gone Through Difficult Periods
The Allen family motto is “Adversity doesn’t build character, it exposes it,” as their father told USA Today. That character has been tested as the family has experienced a series of challenges in recent years, however Louis says his children have handled it well.
“We as a family – Carissa, Devon and Louis – have gone through some difficult periods in the last six, seven years with my employment, other issues and my children have seen through my example that I never quit, never gave up,” Louis told UWire. “It’s pretty much second nature to them now – they just have that drive, have that passion.”
Tim O’Neil, who coached Allen in high school, spoke about how the family’s values impacted his athletic approach to UWire.
“His parents have done a fantastic job,” O’Neil told the news site. “Real high value placed on high morals and integrity, doing things right.”
Those values have helped Allen and Carissa to handle the ups and downs of life. Including their parents separation in 2000, and their father’s loss of employment.
“When I couldn’t find a job, food, the lights turned off, gas shut off, me having to ask for welfare, selling almost everything I owned, Devon and Carissa never once complained,” Louis told UWire. “This is why I feel truly blessed.”
Allen’s parents each created their own GoFundMe campaigns to fund trips to Rio de Janeiro. They raised enough money to fund trips for themselves and Carissa. According to Oregon Live, nine members of the Allen family will be there to cheer him on.