OHIO — Olympic hopeful Daniel Michalski is preparing for the race of his life.
The Cedarville alumnus is a finalist in the U.S. Olympic Trials Steeplechase 3000m race. He finished third in his qualifying heat Friday, finishing in 8:22:03, just one second short of first place.
He said it’s an extreme challenge, but one he’s up for.
“It’s the hardest team in the world to make,” Michalski said. “It’s an exclusive club, a really elite club.”
Michalski’s path to this point hasn’t been a straight-line run. There’s been a few hurdles.
He started his running career at Xenia High School, earning the chance to run at Cedarville where he would capture the Division II National Championship in 2017. He went on to run for Indiana University with his last year of remaining eligibility to face tougher competition.
When his college career ended, he dove into the world of real estate, but COVID-19 changed his plans.
“The real estate market just absolutely froze, and I just literally didn’t have anything to do,” he explained. “I was kept on as long as they could really afford to and I was let go.”
Newly married with a baby on the way, he picked up a job at Walmart to make ends meet.
“Yeah, I started working at a Walmart with the online ordering procurement,” Michalski said. “I’d help people load them into cars and stuff. So yeah it was just a necessity thing. My wife was working, but I needed to be working for us to make it.”
He said he never shies away from blue-collar work and did what it took to help get through a tough time.
Soon after, he found a job coaching cross country at LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas.
“God’s continued to provide for us every step of the way,” Michalski said.
But he never gave up on his Olympic dream, and now he's steeplechasing for one of the top three spots in the U.S.
“I got a pride in our country, too,” Michalski said. “I’m proud to represent the red, white and blue if I can. And yeah it would mean a ton to me.”
He hopes to run the race of his life to make a memory that’ll last for the rest of his life.
“I’ve been focusing in on the race, and I just wanna execute that,” Michalski said. “On the back end of that, should it go to its best, I think I’ll be pretty emotional.”
Michalski takes the track for the steeplechase finals Friday night at 7:30 p.m. EST.