Team USA steeplechase specialist Colleen Quigley traded walking on a catwalk for running on a track, and so far, so good. When the 23-year-old made the Olympic team this summer, she called it “the most amazing day” of her life.
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I'm an Olympian! Most amazing day of my life. Massive thank you to everyone who texted, called, snapped, tweeted, and instagrammed today. I promise I will respond to everything tomorrow! Tonight- we celebrate!! 🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾 #justdoit #teamUSA #Bowermanbabes #6for6 #dreamteam #roadtoRio 📷 @jeffcohenphoto
Quigley’s 13-year-old self, however, might be a little perplexed. The Florida State grad used to model and she told Runner’s World last year she always thought she’d end up pursuing a fashion career, not necessarily a gold medal.
“It was great fun,” Quigley said of her time being managed by renowned modeling agencies Wilhelmina and Storm. (View her portfolio here.)
Discovered after attending a local casting call for a Macy’s prom dress fashion show as an eighth-grader, Quigley has fond memories of traveling with her parents for her work — and not just to nearby malls. Quigley was legit, modeling for the likes of Glamour and Seventeen magazines.
“They would have a vacation in the Bahamas while I worked at a shoot for two days,” she said. “It was pretty great. I have really good memories of it.”
All the while, Quigley continued to run and eventually landed a full-ride scholarship at FSU.
“When it came time to go to college, I felt it was the right choice for me to accept a scholarship as an athlete and graduate four years later with a degree and no debt,” she wrote on her personal website. “After college, the opportunity arose to continue doing what I really love, and even though I’m sure I could make quite a bit more money as a model, there is something inside me that can’t put this running thing on the back burner just yet. … I am a runner first, then model.”
And it’s a good thing for Team USA. On Saturday, Quigley qualified for the 3,000-meter steeplechase final that’s scheduled to be held Monday. She’ll be joined by Courtney Frerichs and Emma Coburn, who is the reigning U.S. champion at the event.