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Know your Olympians: Alyx Treasure

A former Big 12 champ overcomes obstacles to make it to Rio

Pan Am Games: Track and Field John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas State has a long tradition of success at the Olympics, dating all the way back to 1920. 24 Wildcats have represented their countries at the Olympics so far, winning eight medals in total. This year, seven current and former Kansas State track and field athletes have qualified for the 2016 Games in Rio. Over the next week, we'll introduce you to each of these Wildcats so you can root for them when they take the field.

Alyx Treasure is not exactly a household name in Kansas State circles, but she really ought to be. She was a standout high school athlete in her native British Columbia. She won the Big 12 indoor high jump title as a freshman in 2012, and was a five time All-American by her senior year. In 2014, she had her best-ever finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, taking second place in the high jump, while also winning her first national high jump title in Canada with a personal best mark of 1.89m.

But elite status eluded Treasure for much of her short career. In college, niggling injuries to her back, hips and feet disrupted her training and kept her from reaching her full potential. Although she was doing well at collegiate events, she did not qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London. According to Cliff Rovelto, her best collegiate mark of 1.86m was well below what he believed Treasure could have accomplished without all the obstacles in her way.

Treasure has bounced back nicely though. She’s finally healthy, and at the Ward Haylett Invitational at Kansas State this spring, she finally hit the Olympic standard height of 1.93m. It was also a meet record and facility record, and Treasure was especially pleased to make her mark in Manhattan. She described the moment as both “surreal” and “just the greatest experience,” one she intends to remember forever.

That moment was good enough to qualify for Rio as a member of Team Canada, but Treasure gold-plated that status in June. Needing only a podium finish, she actually took gold in the women’s high jump finals at the Canadian Olympics track and field trials, guaranteeing her spot on the team. In the process, she became the first athlete from her track club to ever make it to the Olympics.

The Games present a unique risk for Treasure. Diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease six years ago, she takes medications that weaken her immune system. As a result, she cannot take any of the active vaccinations recommended for athletes in Rio. She’s well aware of the serious risks involved, but as she says, “it’s the Games and you can’t miss out on that.”

In Rio, Treasure will take the field for the women’s high jump qualifiers at 10:00 AM on August 18th.

The 2016 Olympic Games will run from August 5th to 21st. You can find the complete TV listings HERE and a full schedule of events HERE.