Track grad eyes Olympic berth; Miriam Khan tries for London

As Miriam Khan steps up to the line at her next race, she’ll have one thing on her mind — the 2012 Olympics. The College alumna has high, but very realistic hopes of competing for Italy in the 100-meter dash in London next summer.

Khan was a standout at the College. (Courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

Khan is on top of her game as she prepares for the biggest competition of her life, but she hasn’t arrived at this point without overcoming major obstacles. After a successful track career at nearby Hopewell Valley High School, she struggled at Boston College; she eventually quit the track team there and for a while considered her running days to be over.

“I had a gut feeling that I shouldn’t give up with track that easily, so I decided to transfer,” Khan said. “That is when I came to (the College).”

Despite the renewed confidence she gained when she arrived at the College three years ago, many difficulties were still ahead of her. Beyond the struggles that a runner normally faces, Khan was forced to deal with an extraordinary set of circumstances.

“I was in a car accident and herniated a disc in my lower back. It was horrible, and my life was permanently changed when that happened,” Khan said. “I thought I would never be able to run again. I went to physical therapy for months … however, running was still a challenge.”

With such a major injury, paired with a career that had suffered many setbacks by that point, Khan had to make a decision. She had to determine how far she was willing to push her running career and how long she was willing to put off attending medical school, another objective of hers.

“Luckily, my coach, Justin Lindsey, was very understanding and really wanted to work with me,” Khan said. “(Lindsey) felt I had too much potential to let an injury end my career.”

Over the past three years, Lindsey has helped Khan train to become a sprinter who can turn Olympic dreams into reality. In 2010, she was the Division III women’s 100-meter national champion and nearly broke the record for the best time in that race.

Khan wants to compete for Italy in 2012. (Courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

Since Khan graduated this past May, Lindsey has continued to coach her as she trains for the Olympics, and it is easy to see the mutual admiration between them.

Though Lindsey recognizes how great of a sprinter Khan has become, he still believes she has the potential to make improvements and possibly even compete for medals at next summer’s games.

“Miriam is so driven. Her ability to focus and to process what I want her to do is phenomenal,” Lindsey said. “She also has an open-minded approach to everything I present to her to make her a better athlete.”

After overcoming all of these obstacles, many with the help of Lindsey, Khan has one more in her way—Italian citizenship. She would like to compete in the Olympics on behalf of Italy, her mother’s nation of origin, but to do so, she has had to involve herself in a drawn-out application process. Still, Khan remains positive.

“I have gathered all of my citizenship documentations for the legal procedure, which took a year to do,” she said. “I should have this done within the next couple months. After that, I will be a full American-Italian dual citizen.”

Once she accomplishes this, the only thing left in her way is to qualify for the 100-meter, 200-meter and possibly the 4×100-meter relay. As long as she stays on track and is able to avoid the type of setbacks that have hindered her in the past, qualifying seems extremely attainable. In this sport, confidence is vital, and the team of Khan and Lindsey definitely has that on its side.

“I believe she can definitely be an Olympian this summer and be the Italian national champion in the 100-meter,” Lindsey said.

With this attitude, an immense amount of preparation, and a rare amount of raw talent, Khan appears to be on her way to the Olympic Games in less than a year.

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