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(Koll) Uhl feels like 'rock star' at Olympic homecoming event

August 19, 2012
By CHRIS JOHNSON - Assistant Sports Editor ( , Messenger News

DES MOINES - Lisa (Koll) Uhl got the royal treatment here Saturday, leaving an Olympian who thought she'd seen it all in awe.

The 2005 Fort Dodge graduate was honored in front of over 5,000 fans at Iowa's Olympic Homecoming Celebration at the Knapp Center on the Drake University campus.

Uhl and fellow Iowa Olympians Jake Varner, Gabby Douglas, Lolo Jones, Miranda Leek and 2008 gold medalist Shawn Johnson were in attendance for the event.

Article Photos

Photo courtesy of Drake University

Lisa (Koll) Uhl (far left)?responds to a media member as Miranda Leek, Gabby Douglas, Jake Varner and Lolo Jones listen during a press conference on Saturday in Des Moines.

The athletes took the stage one by one, each receiving a standing ovation as part of a two-hour welcome-home ceremony. Gov. Terry Branstad declaring it "Iowa Olympian Day."

For Uhl - a 10,000-meter United States runner at the London Games - the event capped off a memorable summer.

"I felt like a rock star,'' Uhl said. "It was really fun and a special experience to get a homecoming from the entire state.''

Uhl wasn't alone on her trek, as her family was also there to welcome her back.

"They picked us up in a limo and my whole family was there,'' Uhl said. "It was great for them and I?think they had as much fun as I did.

"They treated all of us like royalty.''

The 11-time time All-American set a personal best in her 13th-place Olympic performance.

"It was just indescribable,'' Uhl said. "It was so inspiring to be with athletes of that caliber. I appreciated the different sports and all of the different athletes.

"The support for every county was remarkable. There were just as many U.S. flags as there were British flags. It was neat to see the people travel across the Atlantic to cheer us on. Totally life-changing.''

Uhl plans on taking a little break before getting back to work.

"I plan on doing some road racing this fall,'' Uhl said. "Then I'm going to take a mental and physical break from running.

"I still plan on doing some indoor stuff and get ready for the U.S. Championships next June."

With her 2012 Olympic journey complete, Uhl has her sights set on an Olympic return in 2016.

"I'm definitely going to keep doing this,'' Uhl said. "The goal this year was a Top-10 finish, but when I toe the line in Brazil, I'm lining up for a medal.''

Uhl was also overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from start to finish.

"I want to give a big thank-you to everyone for supporting me,'' Uhl said. "To come back and see all of this was great. All the support I got on e-mail and through the media was very much appreciated.''



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