The 2012 London Olympics welcomed several American newcomers, among them Bridget Franek. Although she did not medal in her event, the 3000m Steeplechase, Franek's efforts earned her a ranking of 14th out of 44 world-class runners, an accomplishment we can all be proud of.
STACK chatted with the Team USA runner to learn how she prepared for her first Olympic Games.
STACK: What's been your source of motivation to get up every day and train over these past few years?
Franek: My ultimate dream is to be able to make a positive impact and a real difference in other people's lives. I want my personal actions and achievements to matter on a level beyond my own little world. I've learned that the best way to do this is to figure out your personal dream and passion in life and maximize your potential there. Making the Olympic Team has given me more of an opportunity to do this.
STACK: How long have you had the Olympic Dream?
Franek: When I was young and playing sports, the concept of the Olympics was always tossed about. But I never really took it that seriously, because I knew how far away from it I actually was. It wasn't until my junior year in college that I began to believe it could actually be a realistic possibility.
STACK: What's it like to be so focused on your goals year after year?
Franek: I am learning a lot about goals and focus from my personal experiences and my older teammates. A lot of times, it's about your perspective, staying positive and keeping things real. Achieving big goals is really more about breaking them down into manageable pieces.
STACK: What would you tell others who wish to follow in your footsteps?
Franek: Be honest with yourself about your dreams, and keep checking in to make sure you are always enjoying the process of working toward it! When you are working long-term for something, you spend the majority of your time in the preparation phase. It is so important for you to enjoy that as much as the end result!
STACK: Have you already decided that Brazil in 2016 is your next goal?
Franek: Again, for me, it's about the little steps. I was given this incredible opportunity to run in the Olympics this year. I worked hard, but luck also fell in my direction. I want to be open to whatever comes my way in the next few years. I trust that as long as I give my all to the moment in front of me, I will find myself exactly where I am meant to be.
Check out more exclusive STACK content with this year's Olympians.