Parksville athlete Alycia Butterworth’s journey to the Tokyo Olympic Games was full of ups and downs.
But she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Butterworth, who specializes in the 3,000-metre steeplechase, was recently named to Canada’s Olympic team and will head to Tokyo, where she will compete in one of the biggest sporting extravaganzas in the world. She’s still pinching herself that she’s going.
“I’m not sure it’s fully hit me yet that I’m going to be an Olympian,” said Butterworth, a former Ballenas Secondary athlete. “I’ve been running since I was a child and have had the goal of representing Canada at the Olympics since high school. It’s been a long road getting here, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs with injuries and illnesses over the years. To have everything come together at the right time for the Olympics is an amazing feeling and I’m thrilled to be representing Canada on the highest stage.”
Going into the season Butterworth’s goal was to hit the Olympic qualifying standard. Due to COVID-19, Butterworths was left to focus on three races to achieve the time she needs. She posted a personal best of nine minutes, 31.27 seconds at the Harry Jerome Classic on June 12, which was 1.27 second shy of the Olympic qualifying time. She made two more attempts at the Canadian Olympic Trials and Montreal Classic but was not able to achieve the elusive time.
All was not lost, as Butterworth made a compelling case based on her consistent performance in the three races where she finished second in every race. It boosted her world rankings that earned her the nomination to Team Canada.
“The secondary goal was to put together three good races to land in a qualifying spot based on rankings,” said Butterworth. “My coach, Mark Bomba, and I made the tough decision early on this season to forego racing in the U.S. because of Canadian COVID restrictions and quarantine rules, and instead focus on the few races that would be held in Canada. This meant waiting until June, the very last month of the two-year qualifying window and having all of my races be in a short time period which added more pressure to it all.
“That being said, I felt confident in my training and am happy I was able to translate my training into racing, running my three best-ever steeplechase times to qualify on rankings. I’ve had a lot of injuries over the past few years that have marred my training and racing, so to be healthy and have my training come together at the right time to make the Olympic team has been amazing.”
Butterworth indicated after her last race on June 29, she was confident she had more than enough points to qualify for Tokyo. She had to wait for Athletics Canada to make a decision. She was visiting her family in Parksville when she learned that she had been selected on July 3.
Looking back at the process and her journey to reach this important milestone in her athletic career, Butterworth is grateful to all the people that supported her.
“It takes an army to raise an athlete, at this point of my career,” said Butterworth. “I have been helped along by so many amazing people. I do want to specifically thank my team that has been with me every step of the way this year, my family, my coach Mark Bomba, my teammates, including Regan Yee, who is also on the Team Canada for 3,000 steeplechase, and my integrated support team that worked so hard to keep me healthy this season, Marilou Lamy, Devon Goldstein, Garfield Crooks, Dr. Sara Forsyth, Dr. Durriell Bernard.”
Butterworth will also have a fellow Ballenas athlete in Tokyo, Michael Mason of Nanoose Bay, who will be making his fourth Olympic appearance for Canada in the high jump. The COVID-delayed Games open on July 23.
Parksville will also have another athlete heading to Japan, swimmer Nick Bennett, who will compete in the Tokyo Paralympics.