Addressing mental health concerns helped UMKC alumna ‘belong’ on Olympic podium | KCUR 89.3

It was at the University of Missouri-Kansas City where Olympian Courtney Friedrich really found her footing as a sprinter.

Previously a competitive gymnast who only “indulged” in running, Frerichs Athletics proved ideal for track and field, the distance race that required runners to jump several hurdles on each lap.

“I love him,” Frerichs said. “You can’t get out of the zone quite like you do in some other distance races, because you always have an obstacle ahead.”

But not all of the obstacles Frerich faced were on the right track.

While training to face world-class competitors, the track star’s need for perfection led him to panic when workouts or running pace went awry.

She said she had become “extremely exhausted in my workouts”.

“I think in my head I needed to have this perfect build, the training needed to be absolutely perfect,” Frerichs explained, “but the truth is that no path will ever be perfect, but I had a hard time accepting that.”

Noting that the desire for perfection was hindering her full potential, Frerichs’ husband encouraged her to seek help.

Through professional guidance, the runner has learned to manage panic by imagining, breathing, and focusing on the present.

The techniques proved beneficial for Frerich at the 2020 Olympics.

She entered the hurdles as an underdog after competing and taking the medal at the 2016 Olympics, but this time Frerichs made a bold move to push the pace with a few laps.

At that moment Friedrich remembered saying to herself, “Okay, I’m going to make a really decisive move, and I’ll be there for this lap. I’m not thinking about the bosom of the bell now.”

The move paid off, taking the silver and best achievement for an American woman in the hurdles.

During the race, a single word on her wrist was a visual reminder. “Belonging,” a slogan that appeared in Therapy, was a personal declaration that it was eligible to compete against the best in the world, an idea that Friedrich fought against at the 2016 Olympic Games.

Frerichs said of the Tokyo Olympics race, “When I went to the front. I was like, ‘You belong here, you belong at the front of this race, you’ve got your place like no one else.'”

During those games, gymnast Simone Biles made headlines for dropping out of competition citing her mental health concerns.

Frerichs was impressed by Beals’ decision. “I think someone of this caliber would do that, it was really very powerful.”

“We may put ourselves first,” Friedrich thinks. “This is how you will get the best version of anyone, someone who is not only physically healthy, but mentally healthy as well.”

Frerichs will address more than 1,000 students at the UMKC commencement ceremony, something the Olympian describes as more nerve-wracking than competing on the world stage.

She plans to remind students to stay flexible in life, something that the self-described idealist has experienced.

For Freirichs, it’s about “having a plan while being flexible within that plan.”

“I came up with a completely different idea of ​​what my life would look like now,” Frerich said. “But the opportunity presented itself, you know, sometimes you have to take it.”

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