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Bronze medal-winning marathoner recited her Mom's favorite prayer to help get through final stretch

Molly Seidel sought divine help to win bronze in just the third marathon of her career.

Bronze medal-winning marathoner recited her Mom's favorite prayer to help get through final stretch
SAPPORO, JAPAN - AUGUST 07: Molly Seidel of Team United States reacts after winning the bronze medal on August 7, 2021 in Sapporo, Japan. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Molly Seidel was running just the third marathon in her career and it came at the Tokyo Olympics. The last couple of miles during a marathon can be incredibly brutal, especially when there's an Olympic medal at stake and the whole world is watching you. Seidel, 27, knew she was within touching distance of a medal but she needed that extra push, and she sought divine help. Seidel recited her Mom's favorite prayer in the homestretch to give her the energy she needed to push her body to the very edge. Molly Seidel stunned the world by winning the bronze medal. What felt impossible, became a reality for the Team USA marathoner thanks to some help from the above, said Seidel, reported TODAY.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - FEBRUARY 29: Molly Seidel reacts after finishing second in the Women's U.S. Olympic marathon team trials on February 29, 2020, in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

"My mom went to the sister school of Notre Dame, where I went to university, and she found it in the grotto at ND when she was in school," said Seidel. "She prays it all of the time, really in times of difficulty or in times of need." Her mother had texted her the prayer from St Jude, who is the saint of the impossible, on the eve of the marathon. The odds had always been stacked against her, especially given her lack of experience in running marathons. She is an elite distance runner but marathons were a different ball game. It all came down to the final stretch in the 100-degree heat at Tokyo. "With about four miles to go of that race, when I was sitting right around that fourth, third place, and I didn't know whether or not I was going to medal, it was getting really, really tough," recalled Seidel. "I just started mouthing it to myself and was just hoping and praying that I'd be able to keep pushing through to the finish line and come away with a medal."


Seidel is the first American woman marathoner to win a medal since Deena Kastor clinched bronze at the 2004 Olympics. She surprised many people when she finished second in the first marathon of her life at the U.S. Olympic trials in February to qualify for Tokyo. She's a seasoned country runner and was named the national Gatorade Cross Country Runner of the Year when she was a high school senior. Seidel also became an NCAA cross country champion at Notre Dame and won NCAA titles in the 3,000, 5,000, and 10,000-meter races. She ran 26.2 miles in Tokyo to secure a place at the podium in Tokyo.


"Just the type of training that I do for the marathon, I truly love it, even though it's hard, it's long, it's grueling," said Seidel. "I run upwards of 130 miles a week. I just love every part about this race, where my brain goes in the race. I think I'm just really well built for it, and I don't know, it just kind of sets my soul on fire when I do the event."


Siedel's journey to Tokyo is inspiring for multiple reasons and one of them is that she has struggled in the past with obsessive-compulsive disorder and an eating disorder that led to myriad injuries and broken bones because of the stress it put on her body. She was hopeful of qualifying for the 2016 Olympics but she had to undergo treatment for her eating disorder, instead of competing in the US Olympic trials. It was a decision that paid off. "I think that's the only reason I am here today as a medalist," said Seidel. "In 2016, I was really struggling with my mental health and it had exacted this huge toll on my body. I couldn't compete at a high level anymore, and so I had to make a really difficult decision to go into treatment for that.



She has spent the last five years paying attention to her mental health to ensure she's in the right frame of mind to compete at the elite level. "I just feel like it makes me a healthier person all around, and it lets me compete at my best," said Seidel. She is 27 and hopes to have another crack at a medal in the marathon at the Paris Olympics in 2024. She is exhausted after her performance in Tokyo but she still plans on running a 7-mile race for charity in Boston this weekend. She won't need divine help this time. "That'll be nothing," said a smiling Seidel.


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