By Arthur Lewis/Staff writer

For Sheri Calhoun, running has been a passion she has chased since she was a little girl. Starting from childhood Calhoun knew she wanted someday to compete in the Olympics. With hard work and support from her family and friends, her dream of participating in the Olympics is in reach. Calhoun gets the chance to show her talent when she competes in the 2004 Olympic trials.The Kutztown, Penn., native said she has been running since the ninth grade. People who knew her used to tell her one day she would run in the Olympics. In high school Calhoun became the only person in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association’s track history to win 12 gold medals.

“It’s always been my dream,” Calhoun said.

Last year her dreams of making it to the Olympics became real, and her coach told her that she was within reach of qualifying for the Olympic trials.

“If she stays healthy and continues to train, she has a good chance,” coach Tim Moore said.

Moore has coached Calhoun for five years and continues to train her for the Olympics.

While running for Eastern she set records, in the 200- and 400-meter in women’s track and field, 2003 Ohio Valley Conference Champion and 2003 Athlete of the Meet. She was also ranked 11th in the nation at one point.

This summer Calhoun hopes to run in the Olympic trials for the 400-meter event in July in Sacramento, Calif. Her career has officially ended at Eastern, but she now runs unattached to push herself more.

Calhoun has been training specifically for the Olympics since August of last year.

She said “being mentally strong and prepared” is the most important part of getting ready for the Olympics.

“Sheri is an athlete who has a desire and passion. That is the key motivating factor that drives her,” teammate Onyinyechi Chuku said.

Her training has greatly intensified as well. When it gets warmer she plans to practice with the men on the track team. To qualify for the Olympic trials she must run the 400-meter in 51 or 52 seconds. Her fastest time is 53.75 seconds.

“I take it one meet at a time,” Calhoun said.

In order to make the Olympic Track & Field Team, athletes must rank in their designated event with the Olympic “A” qualification standard. Only four athletes who achieve the “A” qualification will be chosen for the Olympic team.

She said her strong support system helps her stay focused.

“Everyone has been positive about my efforts to make the Olympic trials,” Calhoun said. “All of my friends help encourage me when training gets hard.”

Eventually she hopes to attend graduate school and make a lifelong career as a college track coach. For now she hopes to fulfill her ultimate dream of becoming an Olympian.

“I just want to run my best, give my all, then there will be no disappointments no matter what happens, and I will still give God the glory,” Calhoun said.

Reach Arthur at progress@eku.edu