NIXA, Mo. — “It was absolutely surreal,” 2020 Olympian Courtney Frerichs said recalling her silver medal in the steeplechase. “
“It was just the validation that all the work had been worth it. Obviously I had been dreaming about going to the Olympics since I was a child. I’d been thinking about Tokyo every day since the Rio games finished. Making the Olympics was a dream come true, but I knew in my heart that I wanted to have an Olympic medal.”
For Frerichs, winning the silver in the Tokyo steeplechase was a life goal achieved.
But her journey to the Olympic podium started all the way back in her hometown of Nixa.
“I think back to when I was a fifth grader in Ms. Hunt’s class at Inman. I found out that she had taught one of the Olympic gymnasts. She got me her autograph. That was just the coolest thing to me.”
Now it’s Frerichs making the connections with kids in the area.
Taking a week off to come back and visit with the Ozarks current crop of aspiring Olympians.
And drawing the “oos” and “ahs” with her newest hardware.
“Yeah, the medal got out. People were like, ‘oh my gosh.’ I hadn’t even really ever seen an Olympic medal in person until I won my own.”
But for her, the visit is about more than just photos and autographs.
It’s a chance to inspire kids to the same lofty goals she aspired to in their shoes.
“It’s daunting to put really large goals out there, but you’ll really see what you’re capable of achieving if you constantly push yourself and set goals along the way.”
And Frerichs isn’t stopping setting her own goals any time soon.
Heck, just a few weeks after winning the silver – she broke her own US steeplechase record, becoming the first American to go below the nine minute mark.
“It was difficult coming back from the games and mentally shifting right away. You kind of just want to celebrate and be done. Yeah, I’m super proud of that because the sub-nine felt really good.”
And the goals just keep coming, with plenty of competitions ahead – including the Paris Olympics just three years away.
“Absolutely. We’re kind of in an unprecedented five years right now starting with Tokyo. Because of the delay we have five straight years of major championships which is unusual. But I’m really excited to tackle that. I think it’s a really good opportunity for me being in kind of the peak of my career.”
For those who would like to run alongside her, though, Frerichs says she’ll be attending the Vision Clinic 5K on Saturday beginning at 8:00 am.