Olivia Miller survived “The Trials of Miles and Miles of Trials” (a quote from John Parker’s cult novel, “Once a Runner,” a must-read). For ten days, she wrote articles, one a day, for RunBlogRun, provided some thoughtful comments to me as I built my coverage daily on the sport, and survived the Mixed zone all by her lonesome as I watched live events, having hurt my back and being unsure about going up and down stairs.

This is Olivia Miller’s ninth-day column. Please enjoy!

McKenzie Long’s Olympic Dream Realized, by Olivia Miller 

This will be McKenzie Long’s first time going to the Olympics. The Ole Miss senior finished third in the women’s 200m with a time of 21.91 behind Olympian Gabby Thomas (21.81) and Brittany Brown (21.90).

As Long came around the curve, she was behind Thomas and Brown. Sha’Carri Richardson was on her hip. For a moment, it looked as if she would gain enough ground to surpass Long, but she couldn’t do it.

For Long, this has been a year of accolades and loss. In February, her mother, Tara Jones, passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack at the age of 45. Despite that enormous loss, Long has persevered. This year, she placed first in the 100m and 200m at the NCAA Outdoor championships. In the 200m, she ran a 21.83—the second-fastest time ever run by a collegiate.

A stellar 200 meters: Brittany Brown (silver), Gabby Thomas (gold) and McKenzie Long (bronze), photo by Chuck Aragon for RunBlogRun

In the mixed zone, Long revealed that prior to the 200m final, in the tunnel, Richardson approached her to encourage her.

Here’s the passage with grammar corrections and suggestions:

“She was like, ‘I understand what you’re going through, keep doing this.’ She was like, ‘You got this!’” That conversation meant a lot to her.

“It was really empowering just to have her say those words beforehand. It just released some tension… I think that was really what I needed.”

In the mixed zone, she described how she felt after the race.

“Just crossing that line knowing I’m an Olympian now is surreal. And I know my mom is smiling from cheek to cheek. I know she is beyond proud of me.”

Long revealed how she had pushed through mentally over the last few months.

“Therapy was a huge help in itself. It was like going into these past few months and not separating from my mom. You know, like including her in everything that I do. Whether that’s talking to her out loud, listening to her playlists, or just doing the little things that remind me of my mom.”

As Long looks to Paris, she is confident in her abilities.

“It’s been rough, but honestly, there’s nothing I can’t conquer or achieve.”

Long’s life has changed a lot, even in the past week. On June 22, she announced that she had officially turned pro and signed an endorsement deal with adidas. Now she’s an Olympian. What will she do next?