Former Jayhawk Paul Hefferon Qualifies For Olympic Trials

March 3, 2011

Current Jayhawks aren’t the only athletes making the news for their performances on the track. Former Jayhawk distance runner Paul Hefferon recently qualified for the 2012 Olympic trials in the half marathon. 030311aac_209_6282139.jpeg

Hefferon placed first in the 19-24 age group at the 2011 Naples Daily News Half Marathon in Naples, Fla., on Jan. 16. The qualifying time was 1:05:00; Hefferon just eclipsed that time when he ran the half marathon in 1:04:55.8.

A 2008 KU graduate from Overland Park, Kan., Hefferon was one of the best distance runners to wear the Crimson and Blue in recent history. Hefferon left the program being named Academic All-American twice, All-Big 12, as well as All-American after placing 14th at the NCAA Championships in 2006 in the 5,000 meter run.

With his recent success, Hefferon gives plenty of credit to the four years he spent on the Jayhawk track team.

“The first couple of years, especially, gave me the confidence that I could compete with the best athletes in the country, as well as some of the best athletes internationally,” Hefferon said. “(I would always tell myself) when I’m running, that it’s just another race. I ran my best when I remembered that everybody is as nervous as I am.”

Even with all he had accomplished, after he left the University of Kansas, Hefferon was not sure he wanted to continue his running career.

“I wasn’t 100 percent sure that I was going to keep running competitively,” said Hefferon. “After I left KU, I spent a year living and working in Kansas City. (Competitive running) takes a lot out of you, you have to put in the miles and spend a lot of time training. I knew how grueling it would be, so it took me a little while to commit myself mentally to it.

030311aac_209_956943.jpeg“Once I made that choice, immediately my goals were to run at an internationally competitive level – and that includes making US teams. Because running is an individual sport, it is about finding out personally what I can do.”

The Olympic Trials that Hefferon will be competing in are January 2012 in Houston, Texas. If Hefferon places in the top-three overall, he will be heading to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

“In between, my friend and I are getting ready to run the Boston Marathon,” said Hefferon “I’ll also run some summer road races, along with some races on the track. In October, we will begin our specific training segments for the Olympic Trials.”

If Hefferon qualifies for the Olympics, he will be the 27th Jayhawk to represent his or her country in the Summer Olympics.