In her third Olympics, Jenny Simpson is ready to take the medal stand. The New Balance athlete competed in the steeplechase in 2008 and the 1,500 meters in 2012, but she returned to Boulder, Colo., empty-handed. Now, the 29-year-old — who will again compete in the 1,500 — believes this is her time to grab the gold.
What are your goals for Rio?
I’m a two-time medalist in the [World Championships] in the 1,500 meters — I won gold in 2011 and silver in 2013. [But] getting that Olympic medal has been elusive. This year is the perfect timing for my age and ability in the event. If I’m going to medal in my career, this is the best chance.
How have you been training?
I eliminated an enormous amount of stuff from my life. Leading up to the games, everybody trains hard — long runs, hard workouts [and] I watch my diet. But the biggest difference is, if you look at my calendar of appointments, meetings and trips, there’s nothing. My husband is incredibly supportive and takes care of a lot so I can sleep nine hours, train twice a day and not have the extra life stress.
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What keeps you motivated?
There are moments in training where I know there’s a better version of myself inside and the world hasn’t seen my very best. Knowing I have more to give is an important part of my motivation.
Who are you looking forward to meeting at the games?
I love meeting the [men’s] basketball team. It would be a real pleasure to meet [coach] Gregg Popovich. I have a lot of respect for him. My dad used a lot of quotes from Popovich throughout the years to remind me to be smart in my training.
Are you nervous about the health concerns in Rio?
You can’t help but cringe when you see news reports. But for most Olympic sports, this is the pinnacle and comes once every four years. Backing out is a far more grave decision for your career and legacy. There are risks that make me nervous, but I can’t put my career on the line.