Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Postcard from London: Eric Heins

For the past few weeks I have had numerous people ask me if I was excited to go to the Olympics, of course the answer was yes, but honestly I did not feel that much excitement while in Flagstaff. Maybe there was just too much going on with running camps, preparing for the upcoming season and the start of a new recruiting season. Sure I was excited, but until I touched down at London Heathrow Airport, I was just going through the motions.

The fact that I was attending the Olympics did not hit me until my wife (Kaci) and I went through customs in London and the agent swiped my passport. On her computer screen something flashed up that I was there for the Olympics in some official capacity. I explained that I was the coach of a Mexican athlete running the 10,000 meters. She explained that I should get my accreditation so that I can travel around the city for free. I looked at Kaci and I was overwhelmed with pride and excitement.

I grew up dreaming of competing at the Olympics, but was never quite that level of an athlete. I was fortunate enough to run competitively in college and then post-collegiately for a few years and even ran in the 2008 Olympic Trials marathon. But I knew there was no way I was going to ever make an Olympic team, it just wasn’t in the cards. I owe this opportunity all to Diego Estrada for asking the Mexican Olympic committee to bring me as his coach and for this experience I can never thank him enough. He is a special young man that has earned every bit of recognition he has received.

As a coach at Northern Arizona University I have been extremely fortunate to work with some amazing student-athletes. As we all know by now, this Olympiad will have three NAU distance runners represented. Graduates Lopez Lomong and David McNeill will be donning the USA and Australian uniforms, respectively. I will be in attendance to support current student-athlete, Diego Estrada, who will be representing Mexico. I am listed as one of their coaches and will meet with Diego on August 3rd for final preparations before his race, which will be on August 4th.

I will write again soon about the preparations for Diego’s race, how he is feeling and what the “Olympic” experience is all about.