SOUTH BEND — Three professional runners and Notre Dame graduates qualified for the 2016 Olympic standard, and next summer they will be competing.
These Notre Dame grads want to achieve this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in the 2016 Olympic games. During their undergrad they were very decorated track athletes. They put aside their professional career goals to pursue the Olympic dream full time.
“Growing up, I never thought I’d be that Olympian. I wasn’t like all ‘I’m going to be an Olympian,'” said aspiring Olympian Chris Giesting, “I just take it one step at a time, honestly just give it your best shot. When you’re growing up, you never know what you’re going to do or what you’re good at or what you aren’t. So give it an honest effort whatever you’re doing.”
That mentality is what has led Giesting, Jade Barber and Patrick Feeney to go from collegiate athletes to 2016 Olympic hopefuls.
“That Olympic dream I didn’t think that was possible ever. But now that I’m right on the cusp of it, it’s actually been a reality that set my motivation to push towards that and myself, the best opportunities to possibly make that team,” said Feeney.
For these Olympic hopefuls, their dream has become a full-time job
“People at home don’t understand what I’m doing and are like ‘Oh, you’re only making how much money? When you go to meets how does that pay the bills?’ But when I’m here, I’m surrounded by people who are willing to push me at practice and say well there’s this opportunity you could go here. They want to help you. So having them with me has really helped me know that I’m not alone,” said Barber.
All three work on campus. They get up before the sun rises to train for four to five hours a day. They rely on donations to help them pay for travel to get to meets. Each puts aside their professional goals and medical school dreams to pursue this opportunity.
“I know it’s definitely going to be tough to make the Olympic team, but I wanted to go into it. At least giving myself a chance and have no regrets. So I know if I run it that means I at least gave myself the opportunity to make that team, and that was the biggest thing for me,” said Feeney.
The road to Rio isn’t easy for these three, but all say it’s worth it.
“It’s awesome. It’s an feeling that few people get, but knowing I’m one of those people that gets a chance, it’s amazing,” said Barber.
Chris, Jade and Patrick quickly realized the financial hardship that comes with being a professional runner. If you want to donate money to their journey, they have a GoFundMe page:https://www.gofundme.com/goirish