When the London Olympics Opening Ceremony happens tonight, be on the lookout for Harding’s first Olympic competitor, Janet Cherobon-Bawcom. She will be one of 25 runners in the women’s 10,000 meters on Friday, Aug. 3, at 9:25 p.m. local time and 3:25 p.m. Central. Her race is scheduled to air live on NBC.
Bawcom first took an interest in running after a chance encounter with Kenyan gold medalist Peter Rono who helped her train and get a scholarship to the University. In her first 5 km race at Harding, she barely broke 20 minutes, but, when she graduated in 2005, she had eight NCAA All-American titles and three Division II national championships to her name. She was a six-time track All-American (eight, including cross-country) during her Lady Bison career. She was inducted into the NCAA Division II Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Harding Athletics Hall of Fame January 2012.
Bawcom finished seventh at the Olympic Trials, but, as one of only three women with the Olympic A standard, her spot on the team was a near guarantee. Earlier in 2012, she finished fifth at the Marathon Trials. Born in Kenya, she became eligible to represent the U.S. in fall 2011.
It’s been fun to follow her progress on Facebook through the postings of her proud father-in-law and my friend, Dean Bawcom (’70). He and his wife, Lana Cowart (’72); their son and Janet’s trainer, Jay (’97); daughter, Amanda (’97); and other family will be there to watch.
Also at the Olympics are 20 members of the three-week Harding Olympic Tour being led by Drs. J.D. Yingling and Jessica Moore. The tour traces the history of the Olympic Games from ancient Greece to Munich to Rome arriving in London for the 2012 Games. Noah Darnell is covering this tour so be watching for his story and fabulous photos in the fall magazine.
Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer
(Statistics and times courtesy of Scott Goode and USA Track & Field site)