This Runner Becomes An Olympian Against All Odds

As a little girl, Brenda Martinez had electricity in her veins. She was a constant source of energy searching for an outlet. When she discovered running, she discovered a place for her racing heart. Martinez’s parents each worked two jobs to support her sport and her two siblings. Her passion for long-distance running continued in high school, she was named All-American three times at UC Riverside, and she was constantly overcoming hurdles off the track. The persistence and endurance she practiced on the track translated to how she handled life, and now she’s being rewarded with a dream come true.

Last week, the 28-year-old won third place in the 1500m Olympic qualifying race, filling the last spot on the American Olympic Track and Field Team. She reportedly beat an opponent, Amanda Eccelston, by only .03 of a second. When she realized she had qualified for the Olympic team, she burst into a well-deserved bout of tears.

Martinez had been turned down by two Olympic development programs. Her current coach, Joe Vigil, took her under his wing after hearing of her struggles. Vigil has led Adams State University to 19 national championships in cross-country.

The humble Olympian has been sponsored by New Balance Athletic Show Inc., and hosts her own annual runners club for adolescent girls. The girls receive running shoes and gear, courtesy of New Balance. Martinez also makes an effort to give back to her community, remembering the days when she couldn’t afford running shoes.

The 2016 Olympics take place Aug. 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.