Heather Dorniden exemplifies the phrase, “Never give up.”
The nine-time All American track athlete had no idea what she would achieve and who she would become when she was younger. But all champions start somewhere, and some experience a pivotal moment in their athletic careers that will define them for most, if not all, of the rest of their lives.
Dorniden’s moment is spectacular.
Heather Dorniden is a talented track athlete.
It was March of 2008. Dorniden, then a college student studying Kinesiology at the University of Minnesota, was also a member of the Gopher track team.
She was competing in the Big Ten Indoor Championships, racing in the 600-meter finals, with the competition being held on her own turf—the U of M campus in Minneapolis. A huge crowd had gathered that day, including Dorniden’s family and friends.
The unthinkable happened.
Dorniden held the lead with just 200 meters left to go when she fell. Her feet had clipped another runner, and she collapsed, skidding across the hard surface of the track.
As quickly as she could and with all of the mental toughness one could hope to tap into in such a moment, she managed to immediately get back up and re-enter the race. No matter what, she had been told, you always finish a race, regardless of where you place.
She had fallen from first to last.
Her fall had instantly taken her from leading the pack to 30 meters behind the last place runner.
But amidst the frustration of falling, Dorniden somehow managed to harness every ounce of strength she had left. She believed in herself, and her body responded.
The crowd who had initially offered a collective sigh after she fell quickly discovered that Dorniden still had every intention of winning that race!
She gave a huge burst of speed.
— Mankato Marathon (@MankatoMarathon) September 18, 2017
In one of the most miraculous comebacks in track and field college history, Dorniden caught up to the pack and passed them all, one by one. By the time she nudged in front of the leader, right before the finish line, the crowd went wild. She had won!
Today, Dorniden, now Heather Kampf, is one of the most highly decorated athletes in the history of the NCAA. She graduated from the U of M with a 3.9 GPA in 2009 and began her professional running career with Team USA Minnesota.
To think of a goal is one thing. To know it without a doubt, even better. To live it out is a testimony to your commitment and determination to inspire others: Never. Give. Up.
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