MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Jacquelyn Coward came to Alabama State in August of 2015 to help the young ASU runners reach for the best they could be and in the process has found herself on her way to Eugene, Oregon for the 2016 Olympic Trials which will run Monday-Friday, July 4-8.
Coward will compete in the 100 meter hurdles and has been training with ASU assistant coach Charles Ryan, who coached Coward when she was a Knoxville, Tenn., teenager several years ago. ASU Head Coach Richie Beene and assistant Michael Snapp have also been helping the Central Florida graduate along the way. It is an opportunity she is ready for after qualifying for the trials back in April at the Florida Relays.
“I’m excited and ready to go and compete against some of the best runners and right now my event is the hardest team to make,” Coward said. “I’m excited and very confident. Coach Charles Ryan has implemented a really good program for me to use to go and compete. I’m taking his advice, I’m taking the lessons I’ve learned from Coach Beene and Coach Snapp. I am going to go out there and let the chips fall where they may.”
This is not the first trials for the Central Florida graduate who finished her collegiate career a six-time All-American in both indoor and outdoor events. She was good enough coming out of high school to earn her first trip to the Olympic Trials and then again four years later coming out of college.
“The first time I went to the trials I was 17 years old. I was a young lady that didn’t know what was going on and was star struck. So at 17 I was not supposed to make the team, but four years later coming out of college I was 22 and I had learned a lot since my first time. It was different because I was older, but I still made small mistakes. Fast forward four years later and life has taught me a lot of lessons of how to persevere, how to be strong, how to continue to go after the things that you’re passionate about,” Coward added.
As Coward used her experience to teach the ASU runners she found out she was learning some things herself just by teaching. Coward said, “Being around the ASU runners has taught me a lot as far as developing my own craft and getting better. So going into these trials I think I have a little advantage because I have been through a lot and I have taught it to other people to help them get better and it has helped me learn some things as well.”
Coward will be flying to Oregon Monday with the 100m hurdles actually running Thursday. So she will be able to get to Oregon and do some training there before the excitement begins and she is looking forward to another shot at the Olympics.
“I am more confident than I have been in the past and I am healthier now than I have ever been, I am happy and this is a great opportunity for me,” Coward said. “These (Olympics) only roll around every four years so I have prepared a lot and doors have opened up. People have been pouring into me giving me donations here and there and words of encouragement and it has all been a blessing. I’m excited and ready to see what happens.”