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An Olympic athlete's race to redemption at the 2016 Rio Olympics




Desiree Linden at the 2016 Olympic trials in LA.
Desiree Linden at the 2016 Olympic trials in LA.
Josh Cox
Desiree Linden at the 2016 Olympic trials in LA.
Desiree Linden at the 2016 Olympic trials in LA.
Josh Cox
Desiree Linden at the 2016 Olympic trials in LA.
Desiree Linden at the 2016 Olympic trials in LA.
Josh Cox
Desiree Linden at the 2016 Olympic trials in LA.
Desiree Linden at the 2016 Olympic trials in LA.
Josh Cox


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In a little over a month, all eyes will be on Rio as the Olympic Games head to Brazil. San Diego native Desiree Linden will be one of the athletes representing the U.S. women's marathon team.

The long distance runner has built up an impressive running resume. She went to Arizona State university where she was two-time All-American in track and cross country. After that, she started running marathons and joined the Hanson-Brooks team.

As she prepares for the Games, Linden is aware she has a point to prove, if only to herself. Four years ago at the London games, she only managed to run a couple of miles at the women's marathon event. After a particularly tight right turn, she was forced to drop out of the race due to a stress fracture.

You can see her in the video below. Her bib has her maiden name, Davila. Linden is only visible for the first part of the video before she slowly falls back and eventually disappears.

Desiree Linden at 2012 London Olympic Women's Marathon

Desiree joined host, A Martinez earlier to talk about her road to redemption in Rio after her devastating setback at the London 2012 Games.

Interview Highlights

What happened at the London Games?

"You can be your breakthrough or your breakdown and unfortunately, I got the bad end of the deal. Just pushed a little too hard in training and was really beat up by the time I got to the line in London. I had the MRI done and all of these things that said, it's just tendonitis go ahead and give it a try...

I kind of hobbled through a mile or two, and it's like, this could be detrimental to my career if I am going to try and finish this race, so I stepped off. You go from making the Olympic team and then stepping off the course and not even getting to see that finish line so it’s like the highs and lows all compacted into a couple of months. Really challenging but it was also one of the moments where you decide like 'Am I going to give up and just go onto the next thing in life or am I going to figure out what this is, regroup and try again in four years."

What kind of goals did you set for 2016?

"We looked at it as a four-year process, slowly building up from 2012 to '16 and the big goal was to make the team here and I definitely prepared different for the trials.  

So we didn't completely smash the training for the trials, I felt like I kind of trained at 95 percent which is still really really hard, but I relied on the three to four years of previous work to kind of get me through and I think it went really well. I was second at the Olympic trials, but I felt that I recovered well and have been able to improve on that since, and it was really kind of the starting point instead of the big goal and so this time, we're putting all the emphasis on the Games."

Take us back to the Olympic trials, how were you feeling that day?

"In LA it was super hot. I was feeling really hot. I think we had one of the warmest trials in history. It was 10:30 race start so the sun was overhead. You can't get overly excited, which is what you want to do and you get caught up in the emotions but you have to be really logical on race day and the marathon's so long that you have to just use your brain and run with your head for the first 20 miles.

The finishing stretch with 400 meters to go or something, it was like that moment where you realize four years of really hard work are going to pay off and you're going to punch the ticket and I just celebrated the whole time. I'm not really one of those people who pumps their fists or any of that stuff but I couldn't help myself, it was such a great atmosphere out there and you think of all the people that have helped you get to that point and it's like 'Ah forget it, I'm just going to go crazy' and it was a blast. It was so much fun."

Desiree Linden at the 2016 Olympic trials in LA.
Desiree Linden at the 2016 Olympic trials in LA.
Josh Cox

Let's travel in the future, August 14th, 2016, the big day. What will you be thinking? What will be in your head?

"The Olympics is different. It's special, it's the bigger atmosphere. I think the saying was...'Capture the electricity of the event without being electrocuted by it.' And so, I'm going to take it all in a couple of days before but by the time I get into race week/race day it's going to be business as usual. Different jersey and a lot more inspiration and motivation in my mind. It's still 26.2, it's still running - right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot, so I'm going to keep it basic and just go to the things that got me to the games and hope those will help me have a good race day."

More on Desiree's race to redemption here.

To hear the full interview, click the blue play button above.

Answers have been edited for clarity. 

This post has been updated.