Three years ago, steeplechaser Courtney Wayment was four seconds away from living out her Olympic dreams.

Only the top three athletes at the U.S. Olympic trials qualified to represent the U.S. in the 3,000-meter steeplechase for the Tokyo Olympics, and Wayment finished fourth.

But Wayment now has a second shot at next month’s Olympic trials and her chances of making it just improved due to a tragic injury affecting one of her top rivals.

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What happened to Emma Coburn?

Three-time Olympic steeplechaser Emma Coburn, Wayment’s biggest U.S. rival, will miss the Olympic trials, Coburn announced on Instagram Friday.

Coburn broke her ankle in a meet in Shanghai on April 27. She underwent surgery last week and hopes to be jogging six weeks from now. Her recovery will keep her out of the Olympic trials and this summer’s Olympics.

In 2016, she became the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in steeplechase when she won the bronze, according to NBC Sports. She plans on returning to the sport later this year.

Wayment expressed her support for Coburn in a comment she made on Coburn’s Instagram post.

“You are incredible!” Wayment wrote alongside two red hearts. “So much love for you! Gonna be a great comeback!”

Who is Courtney Wayment?

Wayment is a 25-year-old professional runner from Layton, Utah.

While at BYU, Wayment won four NCAA Division I titles — one in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. She broke the collegiate women’s steeplechase record in 2022, clocking in at 9:16.

She has been named to two senior Team USA rosters and was the lone American woman competing in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2023 world track and field championships. Wayment finished 15th.

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What has Courtney Wayment said about the Olympics?

Wayment has dreamed of being an Olympian her entire life, she said on Tuesday’s episode of the Church News podcast.

When she thinks of the Olympics, she said she thinks of her younger self dreaming of representing the U.S.

“I think of little me that just dreamed that I’d be an Olympian one day, and I think of that dream,” Wayment said on the podcast. “There’s a very distinct moment that I remember at the age of 15; and I was walking out to the car with my mom and dad, and I looked at them, and I said, ‘I’m going to be an Olympian one day. I’m going to do it.’ So, when I think of the Olympics, I just think of little me that just dreamed, just dreamed of having the opportunity to try to be an Olympian.”

What Courtney Wayment has said about her faith

Wayment, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is focusing on her motto of “faith over fear” as the Olympic trials and Olympics approach.

That was also her motto in 2021, which helped her to still feel joy after the race, despite the heartbreak of not qualifying for the Olympics.

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“I felt so much joy crossing that finish line. It’s a really magical feeling when you’re in the middle of a race, like you said, that you’ve been preparing your entire life for, and, like, I’ve been dreaming that I’d be an Olympian my entire life,” she said. “When you’re racing and you have two laps left, and you wholeheartedly believe that you can be an Olympian, and then you don’t get that dream, that was OK, because I believed.”

She believes that the lessons she’s learned from running and her faith go “hand in hand,” she told the Church News.

“I think for myself and in my life, it’s been very evident and obvious that God’s hand is so deep into our lives, and everything is very intertwined. I would say some of my best and most spiritual experiences have come from running,” she said. “The church has helped navigate my life to help me be really grounded in God, for sure.”

Courtney Wayment, a runner on the BYU women’s distance team, poses for a portrait at the Robison Track and Field Complex at BYU in Provo on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The L7 stretch helps Wayment to jump over barriers in the steeple chase. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News