Olympic Star Colleen Quigley Reveals How She Can Win Gold in Tokyo, Reflects on 2016 Games (Exclusive)

Colleen Quigley is confident she can perform well at the Summer Olympics next year. In 2016, Quigley competed in the 3000-meter steeplechase and finished eighth. And now that she's qualified for the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, she believes the work she has put in the last four years will pay in dividends next summer.

"[Joining Bowerman Track Club] was the best thing I did for myself after college was leveling up and finding the best pro coach, the best group in the country," Quigley said exclusively to PopCulture.com. Quigley has been working with Jerry Schumacher, who is the coach at the Bowerman Track Club, a training group for pro distance runners. Quigley said Schumacher was able to help her improve on her biggest weakness.

"As a distance runner, you have strength and speed," she said. "But the aerobics side is so important because in order to sprint to the finish, you have to still be in the race 70 laps later. [The strength part] was my biggest weakness coming out of college so that was the perfect combo for me. That's his focus. For the past four years, we’ve been working on the endurance side and made huge gains in that area."

And it looks like the work over the last four years has paid off. Quigley said during the indoor track season, she and two of her teammates set the indoor American record in the 3000-meter race. "Even that goes to show how far I've come in the aerobics strength part of the game," Quigley stated. "I'm excited to know where that translates to when I get to steeple again."

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Quigley is confident she can come out on top in Tokyo. That wasn't the case in 2016 as she didn't expect to make an impact. "I had fairly low expectations for myself going into the games that year because I was so young, I never made the team before. It was like ‘see what we can do here’ kind of thing," she said. "Nobody expected anything from me."

Quigley was happy with her eighth-place finish, but it also motivated her to have a better showing in 2021. "I never really admitted it to myself, but I think my real goals were a little bit higher than that," she stated. "I was happy with eighth but I also knew that my performance wasn't my absolute best. That left me hungry for something more. I made some mistakes in the race and I could train more and be more prepared and do even better if I had more time. Just because I felt like I was so young when I was still figuring everything out. I left the 2016 Olympic Games with this feeling of hunger for more and I want to train four more years and do it again and do it better."