SCV Star goes for the Olympic Gold
August, 2012 - Issue #94
There's one thing Alysia Montano rarely does - and that's stop.

But two weeks before the Canyon High graduate won the 800-meter race at the US Olympic Trials and earned a spot on the 2012 US Olympic team, Montano was finally at a standstill. She explained what life had been like leading up to trials.

Breaks were few and far between for the world-class athlete.

Out of a 14-day cycle, she would train 13 days.

"In EVERYTHING there is a sacrifice."

Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays were the hardcore days.

Wake up at 7:30 a.m. Eat. Practice at 9:30 a.m. Warm-up. Start at 10:30 a.m. Don't leave the track for three hours. Head straight to the weight room. Stretch at 2:30 p.m. Then eat again and get some fluids. Go home and nap. Go for a run at 6 p.m. Dinner. Deep-tissue massage. Sleep.

"In everything there's a sacrifice, but I see my sacrifices daily," Montano says. "It's a really different life and hard for a lot of people to understand it. You're not going to sit down with your friends and talk about all the things you go through or why you can't do this or you can't do that because you kind of end up sounding like a baby."

Yet Montano's life - so focused on realizing an Olympic dream - has so revolved around training that regular things have had to take a back seat. Birthday parties, even a cousin's wedding have had to be missed because of Montano's dedication to the sport.

Friends and family understand. They know how hard she has to work.

"I would say in the world there are a lot of people out there who have the ability or talent to be a world-class athlete. But the thing that sets apart the athletes who do make it is their competitive drive and tenacity to work hard and give everything they have, even on days when they don't feel like doing it," said Alysia's husband and co-coach Louis Montano.

That competitiveness has paid off.

Alysia is a legendary figure at Canyon High School - one of the school's greatest athletes ever. The 2004 Canyon graduate, known as Alysia Johnson before marrying fellow Canyon grad Louis Montano, won the 800-meter state championship, three CIF-Southern Section Division I titles and 16 individual Foothill League titles.

At the University of California, Berkeley, she was an All-American, won the 2007 NCAA Division I Indoor and Outdoor 800 titles and was the 2008 Pac-10 Female Athlete of the Year.
At the 2011 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, she won the 800-meter title.

Leading up to the 2012 US Track and Field Olympic Trials in late June in Eugene, Oregon, Alysia was in full dedication mode.

She recently bought a home in Berkeley and her alma mater let her use the school's facilities for training. Her coaching staff included, with her husband, Cal Track and Field Director Tony Sandoval and University of Virginia Director of Track and Field Bryan Fetzer.

Alysia was constantly on the go, yet running the 800 wasn't part of her running regimen. Alysia said science also wasn't a factor in her training.

"It's just me, my legs, a coach yelling at me and some shoes," she says.

So by the time trials hit, she was ready and came in with a good deal of expectations.

On June 25 in Eugene, at the US Track and Field Olympic Trials, Alysia led from the start in the 800-meter final on the track at Hayward Field. At the end, her fellow competitors closed in on her, but Montano crossed the finish line first, looking spent. She won with a time of 1 minute, 59.08 seconds.

All worth the sacrifice. Onto London for the Olympic Games.

Alysia Montano joined an elite group of Santa Clarita Valley athletes to compete in the Olympic Games - names like Allyson Felix, Anthony Ervin, Crystl Bustos, Nicole Giordano, Mike Day and Cory Snyder. Now her sights are set on Olympic gold.

This is how an Olympic athlete gauges success: "That's what life is about. It's an ongoing quest for success," Alysia says. "And whichever way a person might define success, that's your lifelong goal. Happiness, for me, is success - and happiness comes with me striving for being better in something I'm passionate about. That happens to be track and field, it happens to be being a wife, it happens to be being a friend. There are so many things that define success for me."
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