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Behind the best: Alicia Monson

Alicia grew up on basketball, gymnastics, volleyball and sometimes even played American football with her brother. But since she started running, she's never really stopped. Ahead of her Olympic debut, we speak to her parents, Beth and Jay, to find out what she was like growing up.


Alicia's road to the Games was, in her own words, “untraditional” to say the least. She finished third in 10,000m event at the US trials (with a time of 31 minutes and 18.55 seconds) to book her ticket. Sounds pretty good, we hear you say. 


But despite this very impressive result, Alicia doesn’t remember much from the last few laps of the race. In fact, shortly after crossing the finish line, she was rushed to hospital.


It turns out she was suffering from hyperthermia – which is abnormally high body temperatures – due to the searing Oregon heat. This incident serves as proof, surely, that Alicia is a fighter. That she's prepared to push herself to the limit of what her body can take.


Luckily, the OAC and Team USA member made a full recovery and will make her Olympic debut in Tokyo. As her parents, Beth and Jay, tell us in the Q&A below, this won't be the first time she's bounced back…



Hi Beth and Jay, what’s your earliest memory of Alicia getting involved in running?


Our elementary school had a pretty legit track and field day every spring. Alicia tended to get a lot of blue ribbons. We have a photo of her in 5th grade after she and her friends ran the 800m. Alicia was ready for more, her friends thought it was a little much. 


She started cross country in 6th grade and by 8th grade the high schoolers could see she had potential. They convinced her to go out for cross country rather than volleyball – much to the dismay of the volleyball coach as she was their primary setter.

What was Alicia like as a youngster?


As a small child, Alicia was calm and quiet. You could see her taking in everything around her with very acute senses and always had a thoughtful look about her. Whether it was academics, piano, sports, or whatever she was into, she always did things to her best.



She’s representing her country on the sport’s biggest stage. What’s it like seeing her dream come true? 


We support our kids in whatever their passions are, in whatever way they need it. To see all of her hard work pay off, just makes us so proud. She is so driven and focused, we are not surprised, but still can’t believe it is true. We know that she will do the best that she can do to represent the U.S.A.


How does it feel knowing she’s now an Olympian? 


I have always loved the Olympics but the athletes were not part of my world. I only read about them in storybooks or watched them on tv, admiring their commitment to their sport. I did and still do think Alicia will be capable of great things, but the Olympics? Wow. 


In athletics, she was always a very cognitive player. The coaches would coach her, she would retain that information and “play” as they told her.  


One thing which always warmed our hearts was her actions at the end of high school races. In high school when she finished a cross-country or track race, she would stand at the finish line and congratulate all the racers as they finished.



What happened on the day she qualified? Did you speak to her beforehand?


Generally, we tend not to talk to Alicia before races. We try to respect her schedule and being “in the zone”. I do try to send her a digital message of a positive nature. We were all so very proud of her incredible focus and drive. 

How do you think you’ll feel watching her compete on the biggest stage in the sport? 


Oh wow. I just want to be right there with her – my heart will be. I pray as the race starts (and, quite honestly, during it too) for Ali and the safety of all the runners. I generally feel the same for our kids whether it has been youth sports or the bigger events. This one is pretty special. We just want her to have a good experience. 


Is it difficult that you can’t be there to cheer her on? 


Alicia is so confident and well coached. She is calm and very fact-based in her thinking; we know she will be ok. As her mom and dad, we just want to be there to hug her and pour positive vibes on that track. She has so many family members and friends cheering her on, I do believe she will carry our love with her. 



Do you enjoy watching her compete? Or is it nerve-racking? 


Ha. Honestly, I think watching basketball was more nerve-racking. As she has progressed to each level, I have been able to enjoy it more knowing she’s so under control. We still wish for a positive outcome in every race. We enjoy every second of being Alicia’s parents, whether on the track or in regular life. I will say, watching cross country was so much fun – running along on the trail and doing a little Live Facebooking for the folks at home. Being there is always better. Sometimes I cry a little.

Any tough moments, celebrations, or losses that you feel helped shape Alicia into the athlete she is now? 


Alicia learns and grows every day. While in high school, she pushed herself to recover from a torn ACL in December and made it back on the track in May and went on to win a state championship in the 3200m, we should have known that she had the drive to excel. Also, her tough competitors in college prepared her for this next level as a professional athlete. 


How do you continue to support her today? 


We do whatever we can to help with the business of life. She knows we are always here in the same way we always have been. With us she is just our little Ali. The sister of Lyd, Cole, and Trina. We are cool with her just as she is – just one of the Monson kids. 


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