Track & Field | Gateway to Paris

Track & Field | Gateway to Paris

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As a teenager in St. Marys, Ontario, Brooke Overholt watched from afar as Canadian runner Sage Watson advanced to 400-meter hurdles semifinals in the 2016 Olympics. Home to fewer than 10,000 residents and the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, which isn’t on quite the same scale as Cooperstown, St. Marys is far from the center of the sporting universe.  But there on television was someone like her, from the not-much-more-bustling city of Medicine Hat, Alberta, running with the best in the world in Rio de Janeiro.

Years before, Overholt had boldly declared she wanted to be an Olympian. But at 6 or 7 years old, the assertion was less a plan of action than a reaction to the quadrennial spectacle’s glitz and glamor. She wanted to be an Olympian the way other kids wanted to be astronauts or prime minister. As Overholt, by 2016 a hurdler herself, watched Watson, the Olympics were no longer the stuff of fantasy. They were real. They were attainable.

All she had to do was figure out how to get from St. Marys to Paris, site of the 2024 Olympics.

Nashville might seem an indirect route. But for Overholt, like so many alumni, Vanderbilt turned out to be an important stop on the way to where she wanted to go.

While earning a master’s in human development studies as a graduate transfer from Cornell, Overholt pursued the equivalent of graduate studies in track and field at Vanderbilt. Running for cross country and track and field director Althea Thomas’ program meant competing in the SEC—a conference that produced 27 medal-winning performances in the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Now, with a resumé that includes a fourth place finish in the 2023 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships and qualifying for the 2023 World Athletics Championships, Overholt is on the precipice of reaching Paris as the Canadian Olympic trials get underway in Montreal.

“Coming to Vanderbilt pushed me—on and off the track,” Overholt said. “I had a great experience in my master’s program, and then also being in the SEC really challenged me.

“Running in the SEC final is just as difficult as running in the NCAA final. It’s a very competitive environment, which pushed me to be the best that I can be. It was eye opening in the best way. I truly loved my time at Cornell and being in the Ivy League, but the SEC was a very different athletic experience. I’m grateful because it pushed me to reach that world-class level.”

World-class excellence…

CLICK HERE to Read the Full Original Article at Women’s Track and Field – Vanderbilt University Athletics – Official Athletics Website…