Local Olympian: The future looks promising for Alexi Pappas

EUGENE, Ore. - On a frigid Friday morning at South Eugene High School, the freezing temperatures provided a sharp contrast to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, where six months ago Alexi Pappas took in everything the Summer Olympics had to offer.

"I tried in Rio to really just be there. Like 100 percent, live there as if that was my home. I think I really gave myself that chance to shut out other parts of my life and absorb that whole thing.” said Alexi.

On the first day of track and field events, Pappas faced the biggest race of her life, the women’s 10,000 meter final.

Through the guidance of her many mentors, Alexi went in with the mindset that it wasn’t just another race.

"But to actually embrace it as a special thing so that when you do toe the line and the race does hurt, you're like 'Wow, this is part of a bigger thing.'"

And with that mindset, Alexi’s time of 31 minutes, 36.16 seconds broke a Greek national record.

Find out what’s in store for Alexi Pappas now that the Rio Olympics are over. Watch #LiveOnKMTR Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 6:30 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Before the race, Alexi’s coach Ian Dobson gave her some advice that a world-class athlete doesn’t hear often.

"The hilarious thing that he prepared me for was that I might get lapped. It happened by a world record breaking athlete, but I think to be prepared for something like that allowed me to stay calm when it happened and continue to run my best race."

So with her first Olympics behind her, life after Rio got off to an exciting start for Alexi.

She flew to Los Angeles for a photoshoot with Runner’s World Magazine and comedian Kevin Hart.

"I just had a blast, it was just so refreshing to meet someone who has this very amazing career going but also has found this passion in running. It was cool."

The spotlight continues to shine on Alexi.

Many publications have called her a rising personality in the world of track and field.

It’s a title that Alexi called a privilege.

"To kind of be a voice to some younger runners who are looking for some guidance or some positive energy. If I can be anything in that world to anyone, that is really meaningful to me."

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are still three years away, but it is something that Alexi has already put some thought into.

"I see myself as ultimately a long distance runner, and so I want to start pushing those longer distances. After pacing a few marathons and watching the Olympic marathon, I feel very inspired to consider that distance as maybe my event for 2020."

Until then, no matter the weather, Alexi will continue to run, striving to reach her full potential on a daily basis.

"It's gratifying because you can improve with hard work, it's a discipline that you can study and improve at, it's something where you set goals."

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