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Nine Things You Might Not Know About...Ashley Spencer, by Stuart Weir

Ashley Spencer, photo by PhotoRun.net

Ashley Spencer ran a fantastic race at the Pre Classic, running a world leading 53.88! She ran with enthusiasm and focus, taking the race and shaking up the 400 meter intermediate hurdle food chain.

Here's a fun piece on Ashley Spencer from Stuart Weir.

Nine Things You Did Not know About Ashley Spencer

One of the stand-out performances in the Pre was Ashley Spencer's win in the 400m hurdles. Not only did Spencer set a new PR of 53.88 setting a World Leading time, she beat a stellar field which included Dalilah Muhammad (2016 Olympic Champion), Sara Petersen (2016 Olympic silver medallist), Zuzana Hejnova (2015 World Champion) and Shamier Little (2015 Worldsilver-medallist).

Here are 9 things you might not know about Ashley, as told to Stuart Weir, earlier this year)

1. She used to play basketball

"I started playing basketball but I really didn't like it. I just did it to spend more time with my sister who was playing basketball and to spend more time with my dad who was helping my sister with basketball".

2. Ashley was spotted when she used to beat boys in school races

"One day at school we had a field day and I came to my nana's house and was bragging that I had beaten all the boys in races. One of the teachers said: "Do you want to do track. Do you know what track is?" But I had not really heard of it. I was quite shy growing up so I didn't really want to put myself out there but my nana encouraged me to run track and see if I liked it. And it sort of took off from there".

3. Ashley starting running hurdles because her sister ran 400 flat.

"In high school when I started taking track seriously my sister did track too. I wanted us to come together for the four by four relay but to have our own separate events so that we would not constantly bump heads. So my sister started running 400 and high jump and I got into hurdles".

4. She still enjoys running the 400 flat

" I love doing the flat. I am a very versatile athlete and can do the flat and can do hurdles. I'm very happy about that".

5. She looks back to 2012 as a pivotal year in her track career

"2012 was my freshman year in college and I ended up being number one in the country in the quarter. 2012 was probably the first time I wanted to go on the global circuit. I did not have a lot of confidence but I took on the challenge and in 2012 I won my first national title, world juniors titles (individual and relay), so 2012 was one of my favourite years".

6. Her first senior championship was the Worlds in Moscow in 2013 where she made the semi-final of the individual and got a relay gold

"I got third place in the US nationals and made the team for Moscow in the flat. That was exciting and I did not expect it. I really just wanted the call for the relay. I took on the challenge and kinda surprised myself".

7. She loved competing at home in the 2016 World Indoors

"Portland was fun. I never thought I'd get the chance to run in a major event - except trials and Prefontaine - in the United States. Coach Bailey has always talked about the 96 Olympics in Atlanta and how exciting that was, on home soil and to wear USA proud. Portland was fun. Although I'm not a huge fan of indoors, I ran well and got two medals (individual silver and relay gold) so it was good".

8. She felt she messed up the 2016 Olympic final

"What a lot of people don't know is that 2016 was my first year doing hurdles from start to finish. In the final I actually ran from hurdles 3 to 10 on my unpreferred leg. I did 3-10 on my right leg and really messed up the entire race but relied on my strength in the quarter to bring me all the way home in third place. I almost forgot that there were hurdles in front of me once I saw the finish line. It was really a blessing to have my family there - my dad, my sister and my cousins, my old high school coach. Just to have that support system made everything that bit more special. And to have won the hundredth medal for team USA was also special. I will never forget 2016 - I think it's kinda hard to forget the Olympics".

9. Ashley has a strong Christian faith

"I grew up in the church. I was in the youth choir, the grown up choir. I sang and I danced. I have been through a lot in my life and without God's guidance I don't think I would be sitting here as one of the most decorated athletes at my age. It is huge for me, I kinda lost my faith a bit when I lost my nana - that was really tough, but God always has a way of showing you back to his life. He welcomed me with open arms and I gave my life back to him. Faith is major, everything in my life".,