Neely Spence is more than just another face in the crowd. She is usually ahead of the crowd sprinting toward the gold — Olympic gold. Spence, The Slate Sports’ section very first athlete of the week, is forgoing her senior cross-country and track season here at Shippensburg University to turn pro. Spence has decided that it is time to make that next step and her main focus is now a trip to the Olympics to represent her country.
Spence had to take both these seasons off as she decided after a long talk with her parents, who were both professional runners themselves, felt it was time for her to follow her dream.
She immediately hired an agent and decided it was time to prepare for life as a professional runner. Spence said that it was hard for her to leave her team, but at the same time her priorities were interfering with their agendas.
Spence said “It is important when you are a teammate to be a teammate… on the team working together on common goals.”
With her goals becoming more serious than her teammates it was the best interest for everyone for her to leave.
Now that her SU days were over the training was going to begin.
Spence’s training schedule includes running 70 miles a week and she lifts. The events she is preparing for are the 5k which is what she does best, but she also wants to run the 10k as well.
She explained that both her parents were long distance runners so she has a drive to excel in a longer race. She finished seventh at the U.S. championships and the Top 3 can move on. She wants to shave 20 seconds off her time.
Spence’s best moment running at SU was being a part of the distance medley relay was most special event.
Each race she ran was very memorable. The first time she raced, she set a Division II national record and sharing it with the other three girls was special. The second year was a battle as they lost by a step.
Last year they were heavy favorites and they won but watched the boys win who were not seen to win.
Her whole experience at SU all came and went in a flash, but she would not have traded it for the world.
Spence directed her last quote toward all other aspiring athletes, “In terms of athletics as a whole, it is important to remember little things… the little things are what makes the big things happen. “
On behalf of us all at The Slate we wish Neely Spence the best of luck as she continues her race to Olympic gold.