Being asked which celebrity or role model you’d like to have dinner with is a common question — but having that very celebrity reply is anything but common.
In a recent interview with U SPORTS about her athletic accomplishments, University of Alberta track and field student Ashley Whiteman was asked which person in the sports world, past or present, she would like to have dinner with, and she picked Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson.
Word got back to the athlete-turned-actor — whose resume includes a stint with the Calgary Stampeders — and being the gentleman he is, he replied.
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“What an incredibly accomplished woman! Congrats Ashley! Look forward to our dinner one day,” he said on Twitter. “I’ll pay of course, but you must laugh at my extremely cheesy jokes. Keep doin’ it strong and congrats again!”
Whiteman told Global News Johnson’s reaction on Twitter was both a surprise and validation for her point in choosing him.
“He’s aware of those who admire him and takes the time to recognize it,” she said.
So of all the people in the world, why pick The Rock?
“Aside from choosing an individual largely involved in my own sport of track and field, I tried to think of someone I could easily strike up conversation with and learn from,” the third-year U of A arts student said.
“He has such a positive influence on so many people and has worked incredibly hard to be where he is, I think that sets a really good example. Not to mention he’s super funny and laid back.”
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The interview with U SPORTS also highlighted the 22-year-old’s athletic accomplishments, which include being Pandas Outstanding Female Rookie of the Year in 2016, Canada West Women’s Track Athlete of the Year in 2017, and being a three-time First Team All-Canadian.
Whiteman, who grew up southwest of Edmonton, competed in track and field during junior high at Graminia Community School in Parkland County and then at John Maland High School in Devon, Alta., but didn’t start serious training until after she graduated Grade 12 in 2013.
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Now, the environmental studies student splits her time between track training two to four a day, five days a week, going to class, studying and working two jobs.
“I work at the Learning Assessment Centre in the education building here on campus. I work to proctor exams and ensure a safe and comfortable exam experience for students from all faculties,” she said. “I also help my parents with their business, PartyKing.”
LISTEN: Ashley Whiteman talks to 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen about The Rock responding to her tweet
Whiteman competes in 300 metre, 600 metre, 4×200 metre and 4×400 metre relay races.
If dinner with Dwayne doesn’t work out, she said she’d love to sit down with Canadian 800-metre runner Melissa Bishop, who competed in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and won a silver medal at the 2015 World Athletics Championships.
READ MORE: Melissa Bishop breaks own 800-metre record in Edmonton