Battle Mountain alumna Val Constien to compete in Olympic finals on Wednesday
The local steeplechase racer finished fourth in her heat to qualify for this week’s finals.
One Eagle County local is continuing to keep the Olympic dream alive in Tokyo.
Battle Mountain High School alumna Val Constien will be competing in the 2020 Olympics finals for the women’s 3000-meter steeplechase early Wednesday morning.
The 25-year-old runner advanced out of the prelims on Saturday evening, finishing fourth in the third heat. In order to qualify, Constien had to either place third in her race or run faster than the 9:31 time qualifier mark.
The 3000-meter steeplechase is a grueling race, with athletes having to complete 7.5 laps around the track and clear 35 barriers. And on Sunday, with temperatures reaching into the upper 90’s in Tokyo, the weather added another element of difficulty.
Constien was able to maintain her position in the pack throughout the first few laps, holding in sixth position until the remaining few laps. With 600 meters remaining, she kept inside and was able to close the gap and pass into fourth at the last few meters.
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Constien qualified based on her time of 9:24:31 and will be one of three Americans to run in the 15-person steeplechase finals. She will be racing alongside American team members Courtney Frerichs and Emma Coburn, a Crested Butte racer who has competed in two prior Olympics and won bronze in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
The finals will take place in Tokyo at the Olympic stadium at 8 p.m., airing here on Wednesday, Aug. 4 at 5 a.m.
The road to the Olympics
Constien’s road to the Olympics may have looked different from what you’d expect.
Leading up to the event, Constien has maintained a full-time job at running tech company Stryde. This, according to a quote from Constien in her Team USA bio, makes her a “blue-collar runner.”
In training for the Olympics, Constien ran both before and after her job, consistently improving her times from college.
In an interview with Women’s Running magazine in June, Constien said that in the two years since college she has been able to step up her game.
“I mean, in college I was never a shoo-in for anything. I was okay, but I was never really a top competitor ever in college,” she said to the magazine. “I think that now as an adult out of college, I’ve been able to make a lot of really good decisions and I’ve been able to positively change my life. I think that I’ve just set everything up to make this possible in the last two years.”
In the months leading up to the Olympic Trials in July, Constien set three personal records in the steeplechase. And during the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, she was able to secure the third spot on U.S. Olympic steeplechase team with a time of 9:18. A time that exceeded her previous personal best by six seconds and her college running time by 20 seconds.
For Constien, the running is what it’s all about. In an interview with the Citrus Mag podcast, she said that being fast and winning was her only motive in pushing forward.
Reporter Ali Longwell can be reached at email@example.com.