The American University track and field program will be well represented at the 2012 London Olympics, as two athletes with ties to Head Coach Matt Centrowitz, a two-time Olympian himself, compete for the gold.
Former assistant coach Julie Culley won the 5,000 meter run at the U.S. Olympic Trials to advance to her first Olympics. This is her second time representing Team USA. She competed at the World Track and Field Championships in Berlin in 2009.
“There is nothing more exciting than making the Olympic Team, representing the USA and having another opportunity to race at your best on the world stage,” Culley said. “I'm so honored to represent my country and every person that has been a part of my journey to this point. I'm so thankful to my coaches past and present, my family, my friends and my support team who've kept me running.”
Culley served as an assistant coach for the cross country and track and field program at American from 2008 to 2010 and helped with the development of distance runners, including four-time Patriot League Champion Octavia Rinehardt ’12. She was also trained by Coach Centrowitz during her time in Washington, D.C. after taking a break from running competitively.
“Coach Centrowitz was absolutely instrumental and essential in my development,” said Culley. “He taught me how to think, act and train like an Olympian. He toughened me, he lifted me, he challenged me like no other coach has. He is one of those special individuals that knows the sport like no other.”
Culley was a 2002 cross country All-American at Rutgers and still holds the school record in the outdoor 5,000 meter run. She was also named the 2004 NCAA Woman of the Year for the state of New Jersey. She ran for the Asics/NYAC club at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.
“I am not surprised Julie made the Olympic Team,” said Coach Centrowitz. “I watched Julie for years as a coach and an athlete and I was always impressed with how well she approached all arenas--coaching, training and racing. She always came to practice ready to work and gave every workout her very, very best. I wish Julie nothing but success in London. She deserves it.”
Following in his father’s footsteps, Matthew Centrowitz, Jr. placed second in the 1,500 meter run at the U.S. Olympic Trials to earn his first trip to the Olympics.
“Every Olympian is special but Matthew is extra special because he is my son,” said Coach Centrowitz. “There are no words to describe this feeling, to watch a boy grow into an Olympian. The fun part is that Matthew did the majority of it on this campus--growing, learning and running on AU's facilities. Whether it was the track, TDR or Eagles Nest, he has experienced it all and learned from and enjoyed his AU experience. His mother and I couldn't be prouder.”
Centrowitz, Jr. will kick off competition at the 2012 London Olympics on Friday, August 3 at 3:05 p.m. EST while Culley begins her Olympic experience on Tuesday, August 7 at 5:55 a.m. EST.
“I am excited to go to London to watch Matthew and Julie compete and represent our country,” said Coach Centrowitz.
Follow American University Cross Country and Track & Field on Facebook for updates on Centrowitz, Jr. and Culley throughout the Olympic Games!