Mother of three/real estate agent set for track worlds debut

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DENVER (AP) — Her training runs involved pushing a jogging stroller loaded with enough snacks to keep her toddler content. Her core workouts featured exercises as her kids climbed on her back or even joined her. Her schedule sometimes got thrown off for potty training.

This is the program that allowed Sara Vaughn, mother of three daughters, real estate agent and burgeoning 1500m runner at 31 years old, to earn a spot for the world championships in London this week.

She even borrowed a line from her youngest daughter for inspiration at the USATF Outdoor Championships in June with the third and final spot on the line: “My turn.”

“My daughter doesn’t share very well, and when someone has a toy or something that she wants, she’ll say, ‘My turn,’” said Sara, who’s coached by her husband, Brent. “In that moment, it made so much sense. I saw a couple of women in front of me that had something I wanted, and I was tired of not finishing in the top three. It was my turn.”

A standout runner out of high school in Nebraska, Sara competed at Virginia before transferring to Colorado. She got pregnant with Kiki during her sophomore year and later became an All-American in cross-country. She and Brent — a former runner at Colorado — were married July 28, 2007.

They just celebrated their 10th anniversary while training in London. And soon, they will be joined by their three daughters — Kiki, 10, Calia, 7, and Cassidy, who turns 2 on Saturday — a day after the opening round of her mom’s event.

“This summer, a family trip to Europe — that’s something we never would’ve dreamed of without this running thing,” said Sara, who will head to Paris and Barcelona with the crew for some sightseeing after worlds.

To think, she almost stepped away. Heavy emphasis on almost.

With each pregnancy, resuming her running career became increasingly difficult. Last summer at the Olympic Trials — 11 months after giving birth to Cassidy — Sara finished seventh.

Enough almost seemed to be enough. She was largely unsponsored and constantly concerned about spending money for training out of the family’s finances, which, for years, were solely based off Brent’s running deal with a shoe company.

“I had a hard time performing well when our livelihood depended on that performance,” she said.

That motivated her to become a real estate agent in 2013, just to bring in extra funds. On top of that, Brent opened a construction business about 3 ½ years ago.

“Now that we have income and stability, for me, it brought a lot of the joy back into running,” Sara said as the couple recently bought their “forever home” in Boulder. “I can enjoy competing without stressing about whether we can pay the mortgage or for swimming lessons. I don’t have that guilt that goes with running.”

Brent’s noticed a difference, too, with her fitness at another level after not making the Olympic team. She ran a personal-best time of 4:06.64 on June 10.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Brent said. “She has plenty more space to improve over the coming years.”

Brent took over coaching his wife earlier this season. First, though, they had to establish ground rules. At home, he’s Brent. At the track, he’s coach — and what Coach Brent says, goes.

“If I start to complain or whine about a workout, he won’t let that charm work,” Sara said, laughing.

Frequently, Sara will load up Cassidy in the baby jogger to squeeze in between five and nine miles, when the other two are at school.

“I have a love/hate relationship with that stroller,” she said. “I would much prefer never to run with it, because it adds extra stress, and it changes my form a little bit. But it’s such a tool when in a pinch, which is half the time.”

Baby sitters, friends, family, DVDs — to entertain the kids as she stretches — and the drop-in sitter service at her gym have proven invaluable as well.

“It takes a lot of cooperation from my kids, too, to be understanding and forgiving and supportive of their parents,” Sara said. “I’m traveling a lot. I miss recitals every once in a while. They have been awesome and supportive of their mom, which is really helpful.”

At nationals, her game plan was elementary: Stay calm on the first few laps, stay alert in the middle and stay aggressive on the last lap. The mantra “my turn” popped into her mind with the finish line in sight. Her daughter’s saying was the perfect motivator.

“I was so happy for her. I didn’t know how to contain myself,” Brent said. “It was quite a moment.”

So was this: Calling home to tell their kids the news about mom. Each had a different reaction.

“My oldest, who’s been around the sport for a long time, she kind of understands the significance of finally making the team,” recalled Sara, who’s creating a fund to help undergraduate parents so they can earn their degrees. “My middle one, a little less so, but she does understand that it meant she got to go on a cool, exciting trip to London this summer.

“And my youngest one, she’s like, ‘Hey, that’s my mom on TV!’ She was pretty excited.”

Mom’s success wasn’t the only big news around the Vaughn household in recent weeks. Cassidy is getting the hang of potty training.

“Everything feels really settled,” Sara said. “We have life stress, normal stress, but not like we did when all we were doing was running. Not that life is easier — it’s just much less stressful.”

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PyeongChang late night roundup

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It was a terrific ending for the Olympic curling tournament. The U.S. men’s team defied all odds by upsetting Sweden in the final 10-7. Buoyed by John Shuster’s double take out in the eighth end, the United States all but assured gold at 10-5 up.

On the night that the United States won its ninth gold medal during these Olympic Games, Finland won its first. Cross-country skier Livo Niskanen outpaced the rest of the 50 man field in the 17th kilometer. OAR skier Alexander Bolushnov gave him a fight in the final kilometers, but he too was eventually left behind.


Curling: USA wins first-ever curling gold 

The USA men’s curling team’s improbable Olympic run has concluded in glory. John Shuster’s squad looked like they were in control from the very onset of the match, forcing Sweden to make errors. The highlight of the match: Shuster’s final stone in the eighth end to put the USA well out of reach with a 10-5 lead.

The United States started competition 2-4 and looked well out of contention to make the playoffs, but an incredible run of three wins saw them get into the playoffs on the final day.

Recap: USA men’s curling wins Olympic gold 

The USA weren’t the only surprise medal winners today. Japan won the country’s first-ever Olympic medal after defeating Great Britain.

It all came down to two steals from Japan in the final two ends, with Briton skip Eve Muirhead missing her final stone to give the victory to Japan.

Men’s Tournamenet

USA def. SWE 10-7

Women’s Tournament

JPN def. GBR 5-3

Cross-Country: Niskanen wins men’s 50km 

Finnish skier Livo Niskanen’s pace was too much for nearly the entire field on Friday night. The Finn broke from the pack, along with Alexey Poltoranen, in the 17th kilometer and continued to stay out front. After Poltoranen ran out of gas, it was OAR athlete Alexander Bolushnov who erased a 30 second gap to challenge the Finn.

It wasn’t until the last kilometre that a seemingly-fatigued Niskanen made his final move to brush of Bolushnov to cross the finish line.

It was a very disappointing day for the Norwegians, who’ve dominated the sport this year. Not one Norwegian landed on the podium, including gold medal favorite Martin Sundsby.

Full men’s 50km recap available here 

Speed Skating: Takagi, Lee win inaugural mass start 

Making its Olympic debut, the speed skating mass start proved to be an erratic event as several skaters collided and crashed out of the competition.

The final race is simple: first three skaters to cross the finish line win the medals.

Estonia’s Saskia Alusalu made the initial burst of energy in the race, but was caught up to in the final three laps. The women’s champion was decided by a final sprint, when Japan’s Nana Takagi beat world champion Kim Bo-Reum and Irene Schouten.

Women’s mass start recap available here 

Lee Song-Hoon won the men’s tournament, ensuring that the speed skating program would not have as sour an ending as the short track. Unlike the women’s race, the men’s skaters stuck together as a train for most of the race until the final three laps.

In the end, Lee came in with too much speed to be overtaken by any of the chasing competitors.

Men’s mass start recap available here 

USA wins gold in men’s curling

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For the first time in history, the United States won the Olympic gold medal in curling.

A week ago, it didn’t seem like that would happen. Sitting at 2-4 and with a game against behemoth Canada coming up, John Shuster captained the United States to three consecutive wins (over Canada, Switzerland, and Great Britain) to squeak into the semifinals. From there, they took down Great Britain before completing the run against Sweden in the gold medal game.

Tied at 5-5 in the eighth end, Shuster was able to hit both of Sweden’s rocks out of the house, giving the United States an incredible five points and a 10-5 lead heading into the ninth.

NBCOlympics.com: Watch: Team USA scores five points in eighth end

After that, it was all about protecting the lead. Just a few minutes later Swedish skip Niklas Edin conceded the game, and it was the United States standing on top of the podium for the first time ever in the sport of curling.

Click here to read the full recap from the gold medal game