Former TU athlete makes Olympic Team

Thursday, 26 June 2008
Sarah Haskins turned in stellar performances at the Hy-Vee ITU Triathlon World Cup in Des Moines, Iowa, last Sunday to earn the final spot for nomination to the 2008 U.S. Olympic team. It will be Haskins’ first Olympic Game.

Under USA Triathlon’s complex Olympic selection point system, the 27-year old Haskins, who finished sixth overall in the event, earned the spot when Sarah Groff failed to finish as the top American. It’s been an incredible month for Haskins who won silver at the world championships just two weeks ago.

"My main goal was to win that spot. It’s amazing [going to the Olympics]. It’s been my dream since I was a little girl, just to be able to go there and have the opportunity to win a medal. It will be fantastic," said Haskins who had close to 50 friends and relatives on hand to cheer according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "The biggest challenge for me was trying to get away on the bike, but it was a rolling course and I couldn’t quite do that. But I was able to get out on the run first and it all came together in the end."

Two weeks earlier, Haskins won silver at the world championships.

At Tulsa, Haskins earned 12 letters during her career, participating in cross country, indoor and outdoor track in each of her four seasons. She was a two-time second-team all-Western Athletic Conference performer in cross country, while helping the Hurricane win the school’s first-ever league title as a junior in 2002.

Haskins competed in the mile run, 1,500-meters, 3,000m, 5,000m and the 10,000m in track. In outdoor competition, She set personal-bests as a senior in the 1,500m with a time of 4:44.50, 3.000m with a time of 10:07.96 and the 10,000m in a time of 35:18.57

She earned her degree in elementary education from TU in 2003.

Haskins, 25 finished 2006 ranked 2nd among U.S. women in the Olympic distance triathlon, which includes a 1.5-kilometer (0.9-mile) swim, 40K (25-mile) bike ride and 10K (6.3-mile) run. She represented the United States at meets in China, Japan, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Switzerland and New Zealand and was ranked 16th in the world.

Among the highlights of her season was a first-place finish at the USA Triathlon Elite National Championship in June in Long Beach, California, and five top-10 finishes internationally.

"I had good consistency. I was happy with that," she said. Not bad for someone who competed in her first triathlon less than 4 years ago. In reality, Haskins started laying the groundwork for success almost 2 decades ago, when she joined the Parkway Swim Club in St Louis and competed for 9 years. As a student at Parkway South High School, she won state titles in both swimming and cross country, and then earned a running scholarship to the University of Tulsa.

She used swimming occasionally as cross-training, but in 2000 she realized that triathlons could be in her future. That came when she watched the debut of the sport as an Olympic event in the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney.

"I’d been competing in swimming and running for so long that I wanted to keep competing," Haskins said. "I had a solid base with swimming in high school and built a running base in college. All I had to do was add the bike."

She was hooked on the sport after her first competition, the 2003 QuarterMax at Innsbrook Resort in Wright City, held one month after graduating from Tulsa with a degree in elementary education.

"I’d been riding the bike for only 2 weeks," she said, adding that on the day of the race, "I almost fell over when I got off the bike and started to run."

Haskins took at job at Hanna Woods School in the fall of 2003 while training for a spot on the national team. Although she broke her ribs in a collision between her bike and a car on a training ride, her times in elite road racing and swim meets earned her an invitation to train in Colorado Springs in June 2004. There, she met Nate Kortuem, a fellow triathlete. The couple was married in December in St. Louis, where Haskins’ family still resides.

Haskins first gained national attention in 2004, winning the Under 23 national title and in 2005, when she won the Los Angeles Triathlon. From there, she was off to make her mark on the world.

After settling into married life in Colorado Springs, Haskins set her sights on qualifying for the 2008 Olympics. She got her first chance at the 2007 world cup event in Beijing, which was held on the Olympic course.

"To be able to qualify early would be great," Haskins said then. "The Olympics would be your main goal for 2008, and you could build your training to peak in September, as opposed to peaking for the nationals and again in Beijing."

Last Updated ( Friday, 27 June 2008 )