San Diego hurdler overcomes family tragedy to track down her Olympic dreams

Former SDSU Aztec hurdler Danae Dyer shares her emotional journey to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials

NBC Universal, Inc.

Former San Diego State hurdler Danae Dyer has had lots of supporters throughout her career, but none bigger than her dad, Andre.

"My number one fan, my best friend. Yeah, he was he was always there, he would always be texting me, always wishing me the best," said Dyer.

But in April of 2023, in the middle of her senior season, Andre passed away. His death sent Danae to a dark place.

"I seriously, I wanted to quit. I wanted to quit college. I had so many dreams in track, I just wanted to stop," she said.

And Danae did stop, for quite awhile, but recently with encouragement from friends, family and a strong inner drive, Danae got back on the track and fittingly started overcoming hurdles, literally and figuratively.

"My family, they pushed me and they told me that's what he would have wanted me to keep going. So it's definitely hard, not seeing him in the stands anymore is hard," she said.

Workout after workout, hurdle after hurdle. Danae got back into peak form. Then in May at an Olympic Trial qualifying race in Chula Vista, Danae Dyer was the first across the finish in the 100m hurdles qualifying her for the U.S. Olympic Trials. After the race, instead of her dad running out to celebrate with her, it was her mom Dawn, running down to the track for an emotional moment with her daughter. A lot of crying, a lot of hugging, a lot of emotions.

"My mom came running down the hill crying, because she always told me that when I run 12-9, she wanted to be there, so she got to be there that day," she said.

A proud moment for mom, daughter and what would dad think?

"He's just proud. I know he is, for sure," she said.

Danae’s dedication to overcome tragedy and regain her elite form are impressive, even more so when you consider she works a full-time job. Danae works in Digital Marketing for Sports San Diego. She’s an unsponsored athlete, working, then training multiple hours a day, while many of her competitors aiming for a spot on the Olympic team are sponsored and only have to worry about training, not working a full-time job.

Danae keeps friends, family and supporters up-to-date on her quest through a GoFundMe campaign.

Despite that, this long shot is ready to take her best shot at the Olympic Trials.

"I'm about to compete with the big dogs, and I'm ready," she said.

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