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Uhl at the summit

Family support key to Olympic runner's success

August 2, 2012
By CHRIS JOHNSON - Assistant Sports Editor ( , Messenger News

Sometimes, plans change.

Extenuating circumstances alter best laid plans and can take people down a different path.

For Lisa (Koll) Uhl, that approach has turned into a remarkable journey that led her to the world's biggest stage.

Article Photos

Submitted photo

Olympian Lisa (Koll) Uhl talks to her parents, Leta and Jim, in Eugene, Ore. after qualifying for the 2012 games in London.

The trip to the 2012 Olympic Games in London, wasn't always the ultimate goal for the 2005 Fort Dodge Senior High graduate.

"I wasn't planning on being a (professional) athlete like this,'' said Uhl who had completed two years of veterinarian school. "Some things that happen are out of your control.

"In high school, I didn't even know that you could actually (run) for a living. I wasn't even aware it existed. But, after I had a breakout year (2008 at Iowa State) - I quickly found out.''

After her historic collegiate campaign in Ames that season, the choice became much more clear.

"2008 was the first time I really seriously started thinking about it,'' Uhl said. "Growing up, I watched the Olympics. I wanted to see just how good I could get at this sport.

"In 2008 when I qualified for (the Olympic) trials, I looked at the three women that made the team - and I wanted to be them in four years.''

Uhl was bound and determined to make that dream become a reality. In 2010, she became part of the Nike family and moved to Portland, Ore., with her husband - former Iowa State standout runner Kiel Uhl.

Leading up to the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Uhl admitted she had a few nerves. She concentrated on relaxing and enjoying the event as much as possible.

Uhl was all business on the big stage. She made her dream a reality by finishing fourth in the event. With an A standard qualifying time already established, she was on to London.

"The race didn't quite go as I thought it would. There were a lot of people stepping on each other and my shoe came untied,'' Uhl said. "The whole time I was thinking, 'forget about that, this is the Olympic Trials.'

"With about four miles left I looked at the clock. I knew that I was going to qualify and at that point and all the stress was gone. Those last 800 yards, I really wanted to finish up strong and officially become an Olympian.''

Uhl's mother, Leta, and father, Jim, made the trip from Fort Dodge to Eugene for the qualifier. They were able to share an Olympic moment on the Victory Lap with Lisa.

"My family is so supportive,'' Uhl said. "They went to every meet in high school. In college, they drove to the conference meet in Waco, Tex. They drove from Fort Dodge to Waco, saw me for five hours, then turned around and drove back.

"I wouldn't be where I'm at without them. They've been through the highs and the lows. It's been priceless to have them by my side. When I came around on the Victory Lap, my parents were there - that was a special moment.''



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