Alumna Natasha Jackson Trains for 2016 Olympics

Despite setbacks, heptathlete makes strides toward competing at Rio De Janeiro

Apr. 15, 2014 By Grace Gibney

Biola alumna Natasha Jackson (‘11) aspires to be a member of the Canadian track and field team in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. However, due to recent changes made by Athletics Canada, Jackson has had to overcome barriers to achieve her dream to run the race.

 

Jackson expressed her thoughts in a Calgary Herald article about how a decision made by Athletics Canada brought a series of cuts for the Calgary Sport Centre where she and other athletes train. This included no more financial support from Athletics Canada or access to training facilities.

 

“Canada is a winter-sport-focused country, and it is rare to meet people who want to invest in summer-sport athletes,” said Jackson. “I have noticed, especially through watching the excitement around the Sochi Olympics, that everyone wants to see their country's athletes win, but not many want to help the developing athletes get there.”

 

Despite this setback, Jackson has jumped over hurdles previously in pursuing the chance to compete in Rio de Janeiro. After graduating from Biola, Jackson moved to Calgary to pursue training at the Calgary Sport Centre. Soon after, she discovered that she had a stress fracture in her foot and was unable to compete or train for a year. After receiving a permanent pin in her foot, Jackson returned back to the track completely healed in May 2013.

 

Her new hurdle is financial. With the help of fundraising site makeachamp.com, Jackson is offering a way for friends and fans to support her Olympic aspirations. With each donation, Jackson includes a personal token of appreciation, such as autographed merchandise, Skype conversations and Facebook shoutouts.

 

Jackson made great strides toward Olympic gold while competing in college. During her time at Biola, Jackson was an NAIA All-American athlete a total of 23 times and a Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) champion nine times. She also holds several university records that have yet to be broken in hurdles, shot put, pentathlon, heptathlon and jumping events.

 

“While at Biola, I learned who I am as a woman and athlete in Christ,” said Jackson. “I fell in love with Jesus through track and field, and through the people he placed in my life at Biola. I learned how to love people in the track community, and I want to share that love on an international level.”

 

She graduated from Biola in 2011 with a degree in business management. After graduating she moved to Calgary, Alberta where she is now training full-time.

 

Jackson’s first competition of the spring 2014 season is April 16-17 at the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational track meet in Los Angeles, where she will be competing in the heptathlon.

 

“A medal is not my highest priority,” said Jackson. “My joy comes from establishing and building relationships with the competitors I meet who are from all over the world.”

 

For updated information regarding Jackson and her pursuit of competing in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, visit her blog at http://natashajacksonblog.wordpress.com


Written by media relations intern Grace Gibney. For more information, contact media relations specialist Jenna Bartlo at 562.777.4061 or jenna.l.bartlo@biola.edu.

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