Olivier Surprises At US U20 Championship

Olivier Surprises At USU20 Championship Winning 800m Title

James Olivier a freshman from the University of Maine competed in the USATF U20 Championship this weekend in Mirmar, Florida. 

Olivier was competing for a chance to represent the United States in the Pan Am Junior Championship to be held later in August in Costa Rica.

Olivier has turned into an 800m runner who has experienced a meteoric rise from a personal best of 2:10.52 last spring at Cony High School to the University of Maine indoor record holder at 1:50.16.

In high school Olivier's main focus was soccer and track was more of something he just did. He primarily competed in the 400m & 300m hurdle races, and only ran the 800m on relays.

"I knew I wasn't strong enough to go D1 in either of my main disciplines, so when I spoke to Coach Lech it was just what do you need on the team and how can I fill that spot." Olivier said on Monday morning via social media.

"All I wanted was that opportunity to prove myself and actually put work into track." He said.

The work he has put in over the last 9 months has proven to be worth it. He ran a best of 26:33 for 8k during the cross county season which laid the foundation for his success during indoor.

A normal training week for the freshman during the track season has been 30-45 miles a week, but during XC he was up in the 60's.

"I think discipline alongside my training mentality has gotten me here, and also the ridiculous amount of mileage."

Fast forward to indoor where he ran 1:52.44 to place 4th in the America East finals, followed up by his personal best & school record 1:50.16 at the IC4A Indoor Championship.

Outdoor he showed consistency running between 1:52 & 1:53.8 four different times before his U20 races, although he was limited due to a foot injury.

After qualifying for the U20 final with his 1:52.21 in the prelims finishing second in his heat and having the fourth fastest qualifying time overall Olivier went into the final with a relaxed mind with the goal of having fun.

"I was dancing on the way to the start line." He said.

That relaxed approached was the right choice as Olivier was second from last until the 350m mark, then he moved out and moved to the shoulder of the leader covering the first 400m 54.08.

Olivier continued to show patience before using a strong last 100m to pull away from the field.

Gracing a white New Balance cap - channeling his inner Dave Wottle -  Olivier put his hands in the air 10m past the finish line realizing what he had just done.

"I was in total shock when I crossed the line." He commented. "Wearing the team USA gear has been an ultimate goal of mine since i gave up soccer and went all in on track, but I am still buzzing every time I look at the suitcase of gear."

Looking ahead Olivier is going take off a little under a week and then get back into training.

He says his favorite session is 3-5x1000m with the beginning 800m at just under mile pr pace with the last 200m at the hardest kick I can muster, all with 2 minutes recovery.

Olivier says his next goal is to make NCAA Indoors.

"I don't want to worry about the clock, because the times will come if I keep pursuing greater goals." He said.

A non-scholarship athlete at the beginning of the year Olivier has certainly proved he is worthy of one, and it would be in the best interest of the program takes care of the rising sophomore.

After all they found a diamond in the rough.