Olympic Athlete Couldn’t Afford Shoes, Qualifies By .03 Seconds. But Now She’s Giving Back In Truly Admirable Way.

Brenda Martinez’s narrow win over Amanda Eccleston for a spot on #TeamUSA is a dramatic story in and of itself. Martinez crossed the finish line only .03 seconds before Eccleston, taking third place in the 1500m Olympic qualifying race and snagging the final spot on the United States’s 1500m team. But Martinez’s impressive story doesn’t end there.


Martinez grew up in a working class family. Her parents both worked two jobs, and her mother had to take on extra work in order to pay the fees for the track and field club Martinez joined in school.

She recalls going to school in the same pair of shoes she would wear to track; her family couldn’t afford a separate pair of running shoes. Now, after years of striving– and rejection from 2 Olympic developmental teams– Martinez is finally going to achieve her dream of running in the Olympics!

But she is looking to pave the way for other young runners in need of a hand.  She has broken the mold and gone WAY beyond her calling as an Olympic athlete in her desire to help others reach their dreams.

To bless others, Martinez has decided to give back in three ways:

1) She donated new running shoes on #GivingTuesday. The shoes went to students at Big Bear High School, a school in Martinez’s hometown of Big Bear Lake, California. Boys and girls in the cross country clubs at Big Bear High School received New Balances from Martinez to motivate them in their hard work as young athletes.

 2) She started a running camp for girls. She selects 10 high school girls and pays for their meals and transportation while they are in running camp; sponsors provide the girls with three pairs of running shoes each. In this emotional video, Martinez talks about the girls she has met through this camp and cites them as her inspiration. She says that in her training she reminds herself to work in a way that will inspire these girls to believe in themselves and go after their dreams.

Her desire to provide a place for runners to train extends beyond running camp and into  Big Bear Track Club, the elite training club and nonprofit which she founded in 2014.

3) Her very presence in the Olympic games. Going from raggedy shoes to qualifying by .03 seconds, she has truly broken the mold. Her presence alone gives back to the sport as she inspires the world with her story of perseverance and passion.  We hope everyone will hear of her story and be inspired to strive for the most, and give back the most we can.

Way to go, Brenda Martinez! We’ll be cheering for you and #TeamUSA.

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