(KETK) – The Winter Olympics in Beijing have come to an end and we won’t see team USA compete again until the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

One of the reigning gold medalists from the 2020 Games is Athing Mu, who runs the women’s 800 meters in track and field. The Texas A&M athlete also ran her way to breaking a world record during her time in Tokyo. 

It’s a moment that athletes work their whole lives for, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, athletes were presented with challenges like never before.

Mu started the sport at the age of six and would run in a variety of races. She recalled her first time competing in the event that ultimately changed her life,

“My coach goes we are going to try something different today, we’re gonna run an 800 meter… that was like the first day where I actually like going out there and competing in this event.”

Athing Mu

During the early stages of her career, the Olympics weren’t on her radar. She was more concerned with breaking the records of other gold medalists, like decorated athlete Sydney McLaughlin.

“Just seeing how great she was at a young age and getting all these records in high school, and state records, and things like that, that just influenced me to do greater on my own path,” Mu says. 

Getting to the Olympics is a challenge within itself, but the 2020 Summer Games posed challenges for athletes mid-training. And it started with a postponement of the Olympics altogether.

Mu looked back on how those challenges affected her journey, “I was kind of at a low point, where I kind of didn’t really have much admiration for track and field at the time.”

While the gap year was not anticipated, she believes that it helped push her past the finish line in 2021. Staying in shape is always top of mind for these athletes, but competing in a pandemic also means strengthening their immune systems too.

“My trainer got in there and especially when it came down to an intense part of the year, which was where we were competing every single weekend. After the NCAA’s was Olympic trials, he made sure to get me inside the training room every single day to get worked on no matter how long it took us,” Mu said.

She adds that despite the challenges, she would overcome any obstacle to represent the USA on a global stage.