• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

American Molly Seidel wins bronze in just her third marathon ever

·Writer
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

When it comes to becoming an elite marathon runner, it was a sprint for Team USA's Molly Seidel. And now she has the hardware to show it.

Running only the third official marathon of her career, Seidel finished third in the women's Olympic event with a time of 2:27:46 on Saturday. Her bronze medal is the first medal for an American woman in the event since Deena Kastor's bronze in 2004, and only the third medal overall.

Finishing less than a minute ahead of Seidel were Peres Jepchirchir (2:27:20) and Brigid Kosgei (2:27:36), both of Kenya.

Seidel was visibly emotional as she crossed the finish line and after the race, especially when given the chance to speak with a family who watched the whole race back in her native Wisconsin.

"I can't believe it. Just getting here was a dream come true," Seidel said to NBC. "This is not just me. This is my family, this is my coach, this is everyone who's trained with me. I just can't believe this right now. I'm so grateful for everyone who got me here and I'm so happy."

To just get to Tokyo, Seidel had to overcome a whole lot more than inexperience.

Molly Seidel overcame OCD, eating disorders for Olympic glory

A national champion cross country runner for Notre Dame in college, Seidel spent her amateur career running distances of 3,000 to 10,000 meters, less than a quarter the length of an official marathon. She may have still competed at the U.S. Olympic trials in 2016, but missed the entire meet with a sacral fracture

Seidel would miss out on even more opportunities when the start of her professional career sputtered due to struggles with OCD and resulting eating disorders, as she explained to ESPN:

Four years ago, I could have competed in the Olympics. I could have signed a big sponsorship contract with a shoe company. But as my mental health deteriorated, my physical health went with it. I was sidelined by a string of injuries caused by my disordered eating. As my weight dropped, my bones became weaker and began to break. I needed help, and thanks to friends and family, I was able to see finally how deep I'd gone. So instead of competing in the Olympic trials in the summer of 2016 and signing a pro contract, I entered into a treatment program for my eating disorder. That's how horrible things had become.

Seidel would eventually start running again, but with little notoriety.

By the time the 2020 U.S. Olympic trials rolled around last year, Seidel's day job wasn't running long distances. It was babysitting and working at a coffee shop. She only qualified to run the marathon, a race she had never run competitively, at the event because of her half marathon time.

To call the 27-year-old Seidel a longshot for Olympic qualification in February 2020 would have been a gross understatement. It was her first career marathon and it had been years since she had been considered an elite running prospect.

She ended up finishing second, ahead of many of Team USA's elite distance runners.

Seidel punched her ticket to Tokyo, but then ran into yet another obstacle — the one every athlete who qualified for the Olympics before March 2020: a global pandemic that shut down much of the sports world and delayed the Olympics a full year. But that may have actually been a hidden blessing for Seidel, who managed to get another marathon under her belt before Tokyo with a sixth-place finish in the 2020 London Marathon.

And now Seidel is an Olympic medalist, and may only be getting started. 

Best of Tokyo 2020 Day 15 slideshow embed
Best of Tokyo 2020 Day 15 slideshow embed

More from Yahoo Sports: