This week we take you back to the summer of 2016. Not just to the Summer Olympics as many of you would expect but to courageous fight to make the Olympic team that took place a few weeks before. Imagine the sense set in Eugene Oregon, Hayward field with the eyes of an entire nation set on who would make the US Olympic team and represent out nation at the Rio 2016 Olympics. There is always drama and tons of heart pounding moments at every Olympic trials but nothing compares to what Brenda Martinez went through that year. For us who grew up in southern California like Brenda she is our local running hero and all of us were trilled to have the opportunity to watch her race and make the Olympic team in her bread and butter event the 800 meter race. Not a doubt in our mind that she would make the team and move on to Rio to represent the US. Well at least not until that faithful moment when our hearts stopped pounding and just stood still. You see during the 800 meter final at the trials she was just meters away from qualifying for the Olympics when her feet got tangled up with Alysia Montano which cause Brenda to stumble just enough to allow 4 runners to scream by her in the final meters of the race and kill her hopes of going to Rio. I clearly remember sitting in front of my TV in utter shock and dismay at what had occurred. How could this have happened? I was angry for her. I wanted someone disqualified or something to be done. But as it turned out there was no going back.
What was even more amazing and telling of Brenda's personality and character was what she did after the race. She didn't put blame or point fingers at anyone. She took the disappointment and pain she felt and absorbed it. She decided to take the higher road and now focus on her next race, the 1500. Most of us might have given up but not Brenda! She was out to get her rightful spot on that team before the trials end. The road will be harder but if anyone can do it Brenda could! Just days after the tragedy she moved past the prelims and the semis by winning her heats in the 1500 and was now back to this all familiar spot of 1 race to determine if she gets to run in Rio! And living up to the drama and trills of trials this was one for the all time memories. With 200 meters to go she was in 5th place and this was it. Do or die for Brenda and all her fans! She moved past one runner and now was neck and neck into the final meters of the race with Amanda Eccleston to the last 3rd place spot on the team. It all came down to the final lean and no one could tell who got it not even the runners themselves. Both leaning hard and stumbling through the line. It all came down to a photo finish and just like that Brenda had done what many thought was all over a few days before! Brenda Martinez had made the Olympic team in dramatic fashion! Hats off to Brenda for showing us that its never over and you should never give up!
Coach Rojas has 11 combined years of coaching experience at various levels including coaching a high school D1 State finalist team and 3 years in a row of a top 10 state ranking. He is passionate of the sport of running and loves to see new runners take up the sport! He wants to share a lifetime of running experience to all