James River grad Brinkley reflects on Olympic journey

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 11:33 PM EDT
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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - Kellie Brinkley’s racing days are behind her. The James River graduate currently lives in Texas with her husband and son, and these days, trying to keep up with her five and a half year old seems like all the exercise she needs.

“He’s my life. He keeps me so busy,” Brinkley said with a smile. “People are like ‘you still look in shape.’ It’s because of chasing my kid.”

But it wasn’t that long ago when Brinkley, then Kellie Wells, stepped under the bright lights of the Olympics. When this time comes around every four years, it’s a quick rewind button to her days as a competitive hurdler on the track.

“Watching the Olympic Trials, I had tears in my eyes, just remembering that amazing feeling,” said Brinkley. “It just feels really festive, almost like our Christmas time during this time.”

Brinkley won the bronze medal in the 100 meter hurdles during the 2012 London Olympics. She has plenty of memories from that time, including competing in front of a packed stadium, and even though she’s glad that this year’s games are a go, there’s a sadness that this crop of Olympians won’t be getting the full weight of the Olympics.

“You’ll be part of the one percent of the world and the people that get a medal, it’s even smaller than that,” she noted. “I’m ecstatic that they will get to experience that, but I’m also really sad that they don’t get the full experience.”

Among the things that the former James River star cherished from her trip to London- the victory lap, a chance for the medalists to jog around the track in front of the spectators.

“They won’t get that same experience of jogging around the track, stopping, taking pictures,” Brinkley remarked. “People were literally handing me their babies to take pictures. It’s legitimately the craziest, most wonderful feeling.”

Fast forward, and the former Rapid has no trouble keeping busy. She’s made several television appearances, including on The Amazing Race. She works for Saucony (a shoe company) and also uses her platform to champion for women’s rights and equality.

“I’ve been granted the opportunity to share my voice and to fight for women for equal pay, equal privileges, stuff like that,” she said. “That’s one of the highest honors that I could have in life.”

Brinkley has taken plenty of lessons with her from her days as a world-class track and field athlete and applied them to her post-race life. As the current stars of Team USA take the Olympic stage, she hopes they’ll take it all in.

“My bronze felt like the gold, and it still does. Every day I look at that thing right there, I am so thankful for the journey. Slow down, enjoy every step, every minute, every high, every low and just live in your moment.”

Following her high school career at James River, Brinkley went on to star collegiately at Hampton.

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