NIXA, Mo. –The opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics is tonight in Rio de Janeiro.
In nine days Nixa’s own Courtney Frerichs will compete in the 3,000 meter steeple chase at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Athletes run seven and a half laps, must clear 28 giant hurdles and seven water jumps.
“It was surreal, an absolutely amazing moment,” said Courtney Frerichs.
Much like the 3,000 meter steeplechase event she runs, Courtney Frerichs’ Olympic journey is unique.
“I always dreamed about going to the Olympics in a sport, because I’ve been a gymnast. And obviously gymnastics, we associate with the Olympics,” said Courtney Frerichs.
Frerichs drive to represent the United States was always there, only she thought it would be in a different venue.
“Of course gymnastics didn’t work out, her body couldn’t quite deal with it any more. She ran track on and off through junior high and high school, just on the side. Her senior year she decided to pick up cross country and got the attention of some coaches and we decided on UMKC,” said Courtney’s Mother, Kathy Frerichs.
And it was only four years ago that Frerichs first ran the steeplechase.
“When my coach at UMKC told me he thought I could make the trials for 2016, he really lit a fire because it was something I always dreamed about,” said Courtney Frerichs.
While an All-American as a Kangaroo, Frerichs transferred to New Mexico to spend her final year as a Lobo. That move would pay off, as the Nixa native won an NCAA championship for the 3000 meter steeplechase in record time this past June.
“People were cheering her on because they knew how close she was to the record, it was awesome. It was a great atmosphere,” said Kathy Frerichs.
One of the best moments in her life, only to be one-upped less than a month later, at the U.S. Olympic trials in Oregon.
“Knowing Courtney, she said it’s just the experience, if she makes it great. But we knew she was going to push her hardest. When she was in fifth place we were all like okay, and then she got to fourth, and then that last lap was something else just the way she moved herself all the way up to second,” said Kathy Frerichs.
Frerichs again set a personal record, this time good for second place and a ticket to Rio De Janeiro.
“A lot of them have known that I kind of had an Olympic dream since I was so young, being involved in so many different sports. The amount of support I have received from Nixa and the surrounding community has been absolutely amazing. I feel so thankful to have them behind me through out this whole journey even before I had made the team. Just the fact that I was competing in the trials, everyone was ecstatic about,” said Courtney Frerichs.
“It’s just a dream. It’s going to be hard for her to beat this year. I think next year is going to be boring,” joked Kathy Frerichs.
While it was an unfamiliar sport at the beginning of her Olympic journey, Frerichs mastered the steeplechase and ran her way to Rio.