Once every four years, people rally in excitement for a worldwide event full of suspense and inspiration. Leap year and presidential elections aside, the next great celebration for the nation comes this year with the upcoming Olympic Games.
The Olympics will take place from July 27 until August 12 in London. Thousands of the world’s best athletes will gather to compete against one another for the coveted gold. This year, BYU hopes to send several of their athletes to the United Kingdom with the same goal in mind.
Miles Batty and Nichelle Mackie of the track team are some of the successful BYU athletes looking toward the Olympics. Both runners hold national acclaim as Batty recently posted the third-best time in the 1,500 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Mackie also claimed the title of national champion in the 800 meter event at the same competition.
Such recognition boosts their chances of performing as world-class athletes.
Before any conversation about the Olympics, however, these runners must compete in their respective trials. The hopefuls will travel to Eugene, Ore., and from, June 21 -July 1, race for a spot on the national team.
Athletes racing to join the best in the world must place in the top three at the Olympic trials. If, however, they do not also meet the A or “automatic” qualification standard — for track it would be a minimum speed requirement — they fail to join the ranks of Olympic runners. The opposite applies as well; if a runner meets the A standard in his or her event, but does not place in the top three at the trials, his or her spot will go to someone else.
“It’s not easy to go to the Olympics,” said Kyle Chilton, sports information director for track at BYU. “You can be the best in the world and you might run the best times all season, but if you don’t place in the top three at the trials, you aren’t going to go. It’s a lot of pressure going into it.”
The track stars are not the only BYU athletes experiencing this kind of pressure. Kimberly Welch Doroghian, a sophomore on the swimming team, prepares for a similar experience after obtaining qualifying times last September. Her teammate, Candice Smith, met the same accomplishment.
Swimming trials will take place in Omaha, Neb., from June 25 until July 2. As swimming is a sport which gains most of its popularity during the Olypmic years, the event is one stocked with great anticipation for the young BYU swimmers.
If these students perform well at the trials, the goal of competing in the Olympics will become a reality. They will also contribute to the legacy of former cougars who have represented BYU at the Olympics.
More than 75 BYU athletes have competed in 12 Olympic Games throughout the years. On this prestigious list is Josh McAdams in the steeplechase, Mark Fuller in wrestling and Shauna Rohbock in the bobsled event. Several members of the BYU men’s volleyball team also participated on the USA team which won the gold in Beijing.
These and the current athletes train and compete with the hope to represent their school and country, and with good reason. This opportunity comes only once every four years.