Hannah Gonzales/Courier - Miki Barber, a track and field 2016 Olympic hopeful, at Robinson Stadium on Thursday, April 21, 2016.
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Though she is not currently a Lancer, assistant track and field coach Miki Barber is yet another success story to bolster the reputation of PCC as she trains for her spot on the U.S. Olympic team for this summer’s Rio Olympics.

Barber’s career as a track star began during her freshman year of school in Montclair, New Jersey, where she first fell in love with track. What started as just an extracurricular activity to please her mother soon became a passion of hers.

By her senior year, Barber had become a national champion and received a scholarship to attend the University of South Carolina, where she went from being an All-American runner, to a Double-A champion, to a professional athlete.

From there, she graduated with a degree in advertising and sports management, which she uses often to represent herself as a profession runner.

Barber has been a professional runner for the last 15 years, since she was 20 years old. Since then, she has had the experiences of being a signed athlete for Nike for six years, being part of three world champion track teams, and winning two world-champion gold medals.

Though she is not currently signed with any kind of endorsement, she is looking forward to soon adding some new members of her support team as she embarks on her last hurrah as an Olympic athlete.

Barber is in her second year as an assistant coach at PCC and finds that the majority of her inspiration and motivation as a professional athlete comes from her student-athletes and fellow coaches.

As the sprinting coach, Barber is a great source of motivation to the sprinters of the team.

“It’s a good experience working with her,” freshman sprinter David Purcell said in an interview. “She motivates everyone to become better. I’m blessed to have a coach that can help me to become faster and get me where I’m at right now.”

Barber’s ambition to be a part of the Rio Olympics has inspired Purcell and the rest of the team to train to be the best runners they can be so that they too can someday become Olympic athletes.

“They give me a lot of motivation,” Barber said. “I love working with them. They’re great students and I just want to show them that they have to be hard workers and that, if they want it, no one is going to give it to them. They may not go to the Olympics, but every day they give 100 percent and that’s all I can ask for.”

Barber’s inspirational influence extends to her fellow coaches as well.

“Training for the Olympics takes tons and tons of hours of hard work, so it’s really a testament of her character and perseverance,” head coach Bobby Godinez said in an interview. “I think whenever you get someone with Olympic aspirations, it kind of feeds off into the group that they’re working with. Our athletes here hold her on a pedestal and really look up to her for guidance for where they want to be.”

Among her team of numerous trainers, coaches, family members and friends, Barber holds very high regard for Williams, who she considers her role model and who she works alongside to make PCC’s track team the best that it can be.

“I love coming to see coach Pat,” Barber said. “He’s shown me a lot, and the students really respect him and love him. He’s been a fixture of that school for the past 30 years. That’s my main reason I love being there. He’s helped built that whole team, so without him I wouldn’t be there.”

Another great source of support is her family of athletes, who range from wrestlers to runners and others in-between. Her twin sister, Lisa Barber, who she is training alongside for the Rio Olympics, is an especially essential inspiration.

“I’m a big family person, so the people who are there for me and support me mean a lot to me, and I mostly do it for them,” Miki Barber said.

Barber’s main focuses are on sprinting, speed, and endurance as she trains for the Olympic trials taking place this July in Eugene, Oregon. Her performance goal is to cut down her time for the 100-meter dash to 11 seconds and remain consistent until the trials.

Thanks to all of the love and support surrounding her both at home and at PCC, Barber feels confident and hopeful for success during her last shot at an Olympic medal.

“I’ve had some injuries. I’ve had some good years and some bad years, and right now I think I’m in one of my best years … It’s been a good, long journey and I think I have a great shot at doing it,” she said.

To make it past the trials and become a part of the U.S. Olympic team to represent her country one last time would be the ultimate bittersweet ending to Barber’s career as a professional runner.

“This is the way I would want to go out,” Barber said. “Being on the Olympic team and representing the U.S.”

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