Former BYU track star revives Olympic dreams at age 41

PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - Former BYU track star Marsha Mark-Baird isn't let age slow her down one bit.

After competing in the Olympics in 2000 and 2004 for her native country of Trinidad and Tobago, Mark-Baird is training for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro in the heptathlon at the age of 41.

"I think once you set your mind to something, you can decide, hey, I can do whatever I want," she said. 

Marsha set her mind to competing in the Olympics and she accomplished just that -- twice.

"It was amazing," she said. "I just tell people it was amazing and awesome, but when I focus on how it really was, it was the experience of my lifetime."

But Marsha stepped away from track in 2004. She thought her track and field career was over. But after watching Dara Torres compete at the age of 41 in the 2008 Olympics, Marsha's Olympic dreams were revived. After a 10-year break from competing, she started training again and amazingly, because her technique had improved, her body responded well.

"Actually, I was not surprised, but pleased with how well my body has held up," said Mark-Baird, who graduated from BYU in 1997 and attained her Masters in 1999. "At 41, with three kids, a 10-year break and training for Rio."

Training for the Olympics is expensive, however. Not being an American athlete, finding sponsors has been difficult. She says it costs anywhere from $10,000 to 15,000 per year for training. So, Marsha teaches kids how to run track, mainly the hurdles, which is something she never had growing up.

"For me, it's a blessing to be able to teach and help," she said. "Because I didn't have all that help, especially in hurdles, at their age. I started hurdles when I was a freshman in college. It was very stressful and difficult for me. I cried the first day, because I had no idea how to hurdle."

Marsha's been overcoming hurdles ever since. She thought about trying for the 2012 Olympics in London, and even named her son, London.

"I have not named any kids or pets Rio," she said with a smile.

Marsha won't know if she'll make her third Olympic team until next June, Marsha will continue being a mom, teaching kids to run, and training like 40-something is nothing.

"So I've been training for about three years," she said. "I've got one more year to go, and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel."

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