Former PU Track Star Bird Exceeds Expectations, Placing 9th In Steeplechase at Tokyo Olympics

Bird IN FLIGHT: Lizzie Bird flies more than a hurdle in a 3,000-meter steeplechase race for the duration of her career with the Princeton University women’s observe group. Past thirty day period, Chook ’17, competing for Terrific Britain, took ninth in the women’s steeplechase in the Tokyo Olympics, placing a new British countrywide file of 9:19.68 in the process. (Image presented by Princeton’s Business office of Athletic Communications)

By Justin Feil

Lizzie Bird felt that she could operate far better after graduating from Princeton College, but even she was shocked by the amount of her latest achievement.

The 2017 Princeton graduate and indigenous of St. Albans Herts, England, established a new British national file of 9:19.68 and put ninth in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in August.

“I wouldn’t have expected this a few or four years back when I just graduated,” said Bird. “I truly feel like the development considering that 2018 has been continuous.”

Chook closed her racing time by taking 12th spot in the women’s steeple at the Prefontaine Traditional in Eugene, Ore., immediately after the Olympics, and shifted attention to setting up regulation university.

Supplied her the latest achievements, Chook has no ideas to end racing, but the build-up will appear unique although she reports and trains rather fortunately in the running mecca at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

“I know not getting full-time, I will not be able to educate at the exact same price,” said Chicken.

“I simply cannot do two-a-days. I think I even now have a good deal extra in me. I assume I can nonetheless make improvements to. At the Olympics, just observing I was third European, perhaps I can be demanding for a medal at Europeans or Commonwealths and that can be a fairly interesting thing for this 12 months. I have to be practical that by using on regulation university at the exact same time it will be far more tough and I could possibly not boost at the very same fee but this is a selection I created that I’m all set to do a thing else on the facet that is a small significantly less of a egocentric pursuit.”

Hen set off legislation faculty to chase her Olympic aspiration that only started to experience additional reasonable right after discovering a new coach and commencing to see development though remaining more healthy than she had been previously in her occupation, including at Princeton.

All through her Princeton job, Hen was an honorable mention All-America steeplechaser in 2015 in her 2nd yr in the event, and was a regionals qualifier every single period with the Tigers. She was Ivy League winner two times in the event. Soon after graduation, she retained operating.

“I had a few injuries my junior and senior several years and I felt I hadn’t fairly been equipped to fulfill my likely in college or university athletics and I wished to keep performing it a small extended,” reported Hen.

“I assume in all probability my aim was to qualify for European Championships or some main championship, but I under no circumstances thought I could actually go to the Olympics.”

Bird built severe breakthroughs under the course of Pat McCurry, who began coaching her in 2018. McCurry’s authentic pitch was to get Chook, who has the next quickest steeplechase time in plan history at 9:54.76, less than 9:40 in the steeple. Her situations dropped, and every single accomplishment gave her far more self confidence to try for the Olympics, which include a personalized greatest 9:30.13 in the 2019 World Championships following battling back from a occupation-threatening tension fracture.

“After managing Earth Championships, which was a little something I didn’t believe I’d be capable to do but by some means managed to do, I determined to give entire-time working a go for a yr,” said Hen.

“And when the Olympics have been postponed, it turned two yrs.”

Ending her master’s degree in worldwide studies at the University of San Francisco, Bird was equipped to focus on teaching in the guide up to the Olympics. Her situations bought improved and far better right up to the Olympics. Bird arrived at the Olympic qualifying benchmarks when she ran 9:26.73 at the Portland Track Festival in May well. Then in July she set the new British national history with a 9:22.80
clocking at Monaco in a Diamond League function.

“I struggled early in the season in April and Might,” mentioned Hen.

“I went to a bunch of steeplechase races and at that position I was just attempting to get the Olympic normal. It was a really difficult psychological block acquiring less than 9:30, which is funny to say now for the reason that after I managed to do it everything went efficiently and I knocked off yet another 11 seconds. The period started a very little gradual, but the moment I bought into the swing of items and strike my stride and got into some races and finding a tiny achievement, as the season came to a peak I was equipped to run a tiny speedier.”

Chook felt much more confident than at any time as she entered the Olympics. She turned the to start with British female to qualify for an Olympic finals when she put fifth in the semifinals in 9:24.24. She set a new own greatest and reduced her personal British record with a solid operate in the finals.

“I was truly satisfied, my objective likely into it was to make the final,” reported Fowl.

“I didn’t seriously have any plans beyond that, other than to complete as substantial as I could and get the very best time I could. I knew it was pretty tough to medal or be leading 5, but I thought best 10 would be a truly achievable but challenging target, and I completed ninth so I was pretty happy.”

Chook has been inspired by her development in current decades. Staying in a position to teach complete-time prior to advancing her education further assisted. She identified a great window to do so soon after graduating from Princeton and in advance of moving into legislation faculty

“Training has not adjusted a big amount of money from Princeton,” explained Fowl.

“It’s a small much more intensive. I really don’t do extremely high mileage or truly fast. But one factor my training entire-time allowed me to do is to
recover between periods, which amongst researching and performing it by no means actually allow my physique recover concerning operates. That was the main detail that improved from staying at Princeton.”

When Bird came to Princeton, she focused on being a 1,500-meter runner. It was a thing that then-head mentor Peter Farrell and some Tiger teammates inspired. Chook experienced come in with potent times from the 800 to 3,000 meters but transitioned into the new function.

“I under no circumstances even thought of attempting steeplechase till I went to Princeton,” claimed Bird.

“As a freshman, Peter Farrell certainly pushed me into it. And our captain at the time, she was relentless to get me on board. I was a minor skeptical. As quickly as I tried it, I definitely liked it.”

Just as has transpired when she commenced running skillfully, observing success in her occasion at Princeton inspired her to put much more power into it. She experienced a fun introduction to it in her spring split vacation with the keep track of staff, and she relished the added instruction time it took to operate at steeplechase.

“I felt smooth going over the hurdles early on and always enjoyed the drinking water soar,” mentioned Hen.

“I did extended leap as a kid. It truly feel like probably that early introduction served me get into it. I certified for regionals freshman 12 months and from then on I did fairly well in it and turned a steepler.”

In spite of her emergence in the steeplechase, Chicken remained a robust runner across the board for the Tigers. She retains Princeton’s indoor mile document of 4:39.32, and has a leading-5 time in the 3,000 as nicely as sharing in two leading-five relay teams. Her time at Princeton saved her interested in competing over and above graduation.

“I assume Peter was a superb coach,” explained Bird. “He focused on supporting us create as individuals and pupils as well as athletes. I hardly ever felt I was pushed so difficult that I was burned out. Even if I had a few injuries I continue to had a enjoy of the activity and that intended I wished to keep doing it right after Princeton. I give a whole lot of credit rating to Peter and Brad Hunt my remaining yr and the total group.”

Her former Princeton teammates have been some of the most supportive as she headed to the greatest amount in running. Their encouragement right before the Olympics was some of the most heartwarming and significant to Chicken.

“The 7 days before the Olympics, I acquired a online video from a person of my teammates who bought my Princeton teammates to make a video clip,” explained Fowl.

“They were being all stating fantastic luck. It was incredibly nicely completed. That was most likely the greatest excellent luck information I have ever been given, and it was a good reminder of how good the Princeton keep track of crew was.”

Going ahead, Chook is hoping to give them a lot more motive to cheer for her. Up coming summer time, she has the potential to compete in a trio of huge satisfies at the conclusion of the 2022 summer time with the Globe Championships, Commonwealth Online games, and European Championships all inside of a thirty day period beginning mid-July 2022. She won’t appear outside of that as she continues to appear to development in steeplechase.

“It’s a quite packed summer months,” stated Fowl. “And I feel for law faculty you’re supposed to get an internship but I’m very established on just competing that 1st summer. I’m not absolutely sure how it will go with faculty and operating. I did it at Princeton and I really don’t consider it’ll be harder than Princeton was. I believe Princeton was very challenging. I’m just going to consider to come across a stability — do coaching in the morning and do my reading in the afternoon. And faculty finishes in May well so it’ll be excellent timing to then be in a position to contend and teach total-time via the summer.”