Olympic Journal: Getting Ready To Run

As a college runner at Iowa, Diane Nukuri Johnson racked up the honors. But before she rant for the Hawkeyes, Nukuri Johnson competed for Burundi in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney as a teenager. Now she’s back competing for Burundi in the marathon and she’s also one of a handful of Big Ten names chronicling their Olympic adventures for BTN.com. Find more journals here.

Here’s what Nukuri Johnson wrote recently:

Former Iowa track and cross country standout Diane Nukuri Johnson is running for Burundi at the 2012 London Olympics. A veteran of the 2000 Olympics, she is keeping an Olympic journal for BTN.com. Read all of our Olympic journals.

“So on August 5 at 11 a.m.  London time, the gun will go off and I will be running the longest race of the Olympics.  I am very excited to represent Burundi. I haven’t competed internationally for 11 years and there is nothing bigger than the Olympics. When I came to Iowa for school, I never thought I would have another opportunity to compete for my home country again.  I realized it was possible when I ran the Los Angeles Marathon last April and ran an Olympic A standard time – 2:33:47. I knew I was so close to achieving one of my long-time dreams, which was to participate in the Olympics after beating the A standard, because that would mean I had earned my spot to be there.

[Watch a video feature on Nukuri Johnson at www.kcrg.com.]

“Since I graduated from Iowa, I’ve been putting in so many miles and I can’t believe my dream is coming true. I represented Burundi in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney when I was 15 years old, and it was an amazing experience. In London, I will be older and more prepared; now I definitely understand what it takes to become an Olympian, and I am not just going there to participate like I did the first time as a wide-eyed teenager. I want to be competitive, and I want to represent my country, my school and the people who helped me to get where I am today.

“I head to London on July 17 and I cannot wait to get there and meet my teammates. I am getting excited, and I was recently telling my coach I wished I was racing in two weeks. I am starting to feel like my body is almost ready and training has been going great. The last three-four weeks are the easiest part of marathon training, and now my main goal is to focus on staying healthy, and to let my body rest and rely on all the miles already put in. I know I am leaving in ten days, but it hasn’t hit me yet, it just doesn’t seem like it’s really coming this soon.

“I think I am going to feel nervous and a lot of anticipation at the same time.  I will believe this is real when I board my plan to London on July 17, but for now I am trying not to think about the race too much. Not only I am packing for London, I also have to pack for two more months because I get to go back home to Burundi for two months. I am always excited to go home and visit my family especially, there’s nothing like home, and it will be a great break after the Olympics. The next few months from the tapering in my training, to the Olympics, and being back in Burundi are going to be a whirlwind, but a ton of fun and I am looking forward to experiencing everything I can.

“As soon as I get to London, I will update you on how everything is going. I will post some photos and videos if I can. I will be in London from July 18 to August 13 so there will be more posts to come. Until next time!”

Editor’s note: You can read all of Nukuri Johnson’s posts during the Summer Olympics at her Big Ten Olympic Journal archive.

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Show Comments (5 Comments)
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Anne Johnson on 7/10/2012 @ 2:04pm EDT Said:

You know that we’ll be cheering you on!! Breakfast Marathon party at the Johnson house :)
Love you Di,
Anne Johnson

Alice Hicuburundi on 7/12/2012 @ 5:10pm EDT Said:

Go Cousin! You must know that the whole family is exited for you and with you! How often do we get to cheer for a family member in the Olympics! S’il vous plait!!! What an honour for us! Allez Diane! Kiss

smilbourn on 7/26/2012 @ 12:54pm EDT Said:

Hello, Diane! How very proud all of us at Butler are, as we prepare to see you compete in the Olympics once again! I will always treasure memories of that inspirational talk you have to Molly and her middle-school teammates nearly 8 years ago. You have been an exemplary role model for not only our daughter, but countless others, as well!
All the very best to you!
~Sonja, Clint, and Molly Milbourn (El Dorado, Kansas)

Denise Watkins on 7/27/2012 @ 11:04am EDT Said:

Hi Diane. As a UI alumna and Brit now living in Cornwall, England, I was very interested to read about you. I will be looking out for you in the marathon. I don’t know anything about Burundi, except that my son won a prize as best delegate representing Burundi at the Model United Nations state contest when he was in high school in Iowa City! Not sure his plans were ever put into effect, but glad to know that you strongly support your country. Go girl!

Danielle Berndt on 7/30/2012 @ 12:03am EDT Said:

Diane!!! Good luck! I am planning to get up at 5am to watch your race live. Hope you are having a great time in London, we all saw you with the flag. Also have fun in Burundi afterwards. See ya when you get back :)

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