Last weekend saw the conclusion of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, but for a handful of ElliptiGO athletes, it was just one more step leading to their ultimate goal – participating in the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Emily Infeld, Colleen Quiqley, Kate Grace and Shannon Rowbury all qualified to participate in the Games, joining Meb Keflezighi, who had previously qualified in the US Olympic Marathon Trials, as well as several ElliptiGO athletes from other countries.
At 41, Keflezighi continues to defy age and anyone who says he can’t run with the young studs any more. In February, he became the oldest American distance runner ever to qualify for the Olympics. For several years, Keflezighi has used an ElliptiGO bike as his cross-training tool of choice to build strength and aerobic capacity, and to reduce or recover from injuries. Hear him talk about the benefits of low-impact cross-training.
While Infeld was not a complete surprise to make the team in the 10,000 meters – after all, she took third in the world championships last August – she did have to overcome doubt from both track insiders and herself. Infeld suffered a stress fracture in March – her third in less than three years – so she was forced to rely more on cross-training in the critical run-up to the Trials. The ElliptiGO bike was an important tool in her training regimen.
Quigley, a teammate of Infeld on the powerful Bowerman Track Club, also used the club’s ElliptiGO bike to cross-train through an injury this spring. The results were just as effective for her, as she finished third to qualify in the 3,000-meter steeplechase event.
Grace, who runs for the Oiselle/NorCal Distance Project, claimed victory in the chaotic 800-meter run to advance to Rio. Grace is yet another world-class athlete who used an ElliptiGO bike to return from injury that took her out of competition last year. Her consistency this year, in both training and racing, has been key to her winning form.
While ElliptiGO bikes have proven their value time after time in recovering quickly and effectively from injury, they are equally valuable in building fitness and preventing injuries.
Rowbury employed the Nike Oregon Project’s ElliptiGO bike to add impact-free “running” volume throughout the year, including during a recent altitude stint in Park City, Utah, where she was based leading up to the Trials. She finished 2nd in the 1500 meters, an event in which she holds the American Record, and qualified for her second Olympic team in this event.
Amanda Eccleston finished 4th in the 1500m, one spot out of an automatic ticket to Rio, but she is the first alternate should one of the top three not be able to run. This was her highest finish at a national championship event. Eccleston regularly uses an ElliptiGO bike to stay healthy and avoid chronic injuries that had previously plagued her career.
With the Olympics just a month away, most countries are finalizing their teams. Several ElliptiGO athletes from other countries such as the Australia, Belgium, Greece and the Netherlands were also named to their respective Olympic teams recently.
Susan Kuijken holds two Dutch national records (2000 meters, 2 mile). She qualified to run both the 5000 meters and 10,000 meters at the Rio Olympics. Early in her career, she struggled with Achilles tendonitis and other injuries. Once she incorporated ElliptiGO cross-training into her program, she increased her overall fitness and greatly reduced time off due to injury.
“The ElliptiGO was a lifesaver for me,” Kuijken said. “I feel like ElliptiGO is the closest thing to running when you have to cross-train, which made it more enjoyable to do.” When she travels the world for training and competition, Kuijken routinely seeks out an ElliptiGO bike in the area.
Jip Vastenburg will also represent the Netherlands in Rio, running the 10,000m alongside Kuijken.
Alexi Pappas, an American with dual citizenship, will be running for Greece, where she has citizenship by birth. In May, she set the Greek national record for 10,000 meters (31:46.85), and she will be the first female to race the 10,000m for Greece in the Olympics.
Ben St. Lawrence, running for Australia, makes his second Olympic appearance, having finished 20th in the 10,000m at the 2012 Olympics in London. St Lawrence has frequently used the ElliptiGO during altitude trips to Mt. Laguna, CA to build volume and fitness safely. After suffering a hamstring tear in 2015 that required surgery, some questioned whether he could bounce back, but his return to fitness is proof of how strong athletes can return from moments of adversity.