Sep. 21, 2017
(UPDATE 8/8/12: Amy Atkinson finished her 800-meter run in 2:18.53 seconds, setting a new national record for Guam, and shaved off almost 3 seconds from her personal best time of 2:21.30. The previous record for Guam was 2:19.20. She ran in the third heat of the women's 800-meter run at the London Olympics.)
Amy Atkinson (’11) has run to her dream of competing in the Olympics. On Aug. 8, the Biola alumna will run for her home island of Guam in the 2012 London Olympic Games as a track and field competitor in the 800-meter race.
Already in London, Atkinson is running nonstop, fully immersed in training. Her road to the Olympics narrowed last June when she proved herself to be one of the fastest women in the entire South Pacific, racing in two international competitions on behalf of Guam.
Atkinson holds a number of running records on the island — a small U.S. territory near the Philippines where her father pastors a church — and has represented the island in numerous competitions internationally.
“The Olympics is a dream come true, but in all honesty, my biggest dream has just been to say “yes” to whatever opportunities God puts in my life and run towards them with all I have,” the runner said.
Fulfilling a childhood dream, she played soccer at Biola all four years. She also played on Guam’s national women’s soccer team, which allowed her to travel and compete internationally. However, running took the focus after she graduated with an elementary education degree last year and realized the Olympics were a real possibility after medaling in the Pacific Games last fall.
“The Olympics is part of the journey that God has chosen to bless me with and although I feel there are so many more deserving people, I am so thankful and humbled by this opportunity and pray God will use me and this for his glory,” said Atkinson.
Despite her heavy workload finishing her teaching credential with a full-time student teaching internship, she found time to train, running up to 50 miles per week, and compete in the Southern California Open Cross Country grand prix with a race every three weeks last fall. In January, her coach cut her mileage down to 40 miles and added two speed sessions on the track as she began running indoor track meets in Southern California.
Atkinson credits God for sustaining her during her journey to the Olympics. In March, she suffered from a foot injury, but managed to recover and return after six weeks of pool and bike workouts, soon surpassing her personal bests in the 800-meter and 1,000-meter.
“I have two and half weeks until I compete. My current time in the 800-meter is one second slower than the Guam national record so I am hoping to run a few seconds under that time,” she said. “It is only by God’s grace and provision that I am here.”
Last year, Atkinson won a gold medal in the 5K and two silver medals for the 800-meter and 1,500-meter races at the Oceania Regional Track and Field Championships, where she competed against runners from 22 nations. Since then, she has continued to shave off running time in the 800-meter.
It is her high performance level that has helped her earn a spot in the Olympics. Smaller countries are given at least one wild card to assist in having as many countries as possible represented at the Olympics. Therefore, athletes that may not meet the A-standard to qualify have an opportunity to if they prove they are highly competitive and actively training. Atkinson is Guam’s wild card.
“Few people get this opportunity and I will be forever thankful,” said Atkinson. “I love my island and everyone is so supportive. I am proud to represent God, my island, family, friends and Biola.”
Originally from Oregon, Atkinson moved with her family to Guam when she was 12. The small island has become home for the runner. Atkinson hopes to inspire her students when she returns to Guam. She will begin teaching at a middle school in Guam a few days after she flies home from London.
“My goal in life is to bring glory to God through all I do and be a light for him. I also hope that through this experience I can be a more effective teacher, coach and teammate,” she said.
Read The Los Angeles Times' feature on Atkinson's time in London, "London Olympics: Biola grad Amy Atkinson finds Olympics 'surreal'."
Read The Los Angeles Times' article with Atkinson's results, "Saudi Arabia's Sarah Attar, Guam's Amy Atkinson make impact."
Read a London journalists' take on Atkinson in The Telegraph's article, "London 2012 Olympics: Small teams, big hearts and lots of spirit."
Written by Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator. For more information, Jenna can be reached at 562.777.4061 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
media [dot] relations [at] biola [dot] edu