Wheat Ridge alum headed to Olympics

From Stober Elementary to Tokyo Games, hometown girl makes good

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Annie Kunz, Wheat Ridge High School alumni and two-sport athlete at Texas A&M University, is headed to Tokyo to compete in the heptathlon after scoring a personal-best 6,703 points at a June 26 Olympic qualifying event in Eugene, Oregon.

Kunz set personal records in six of the seven events in which she competed and broke the Olympic trials record in shot put with a throw of 15.73 meters. That record was previously held by Olympic champion Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who rose to fame by winning two gold medals in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.

In the final event of her qualifying meet, Kunz finished with a strong time of 2 minutes, 15.24 seconds in the 800 meters on a day when the thermometer reached a scorching 108 degrees. The temperature at the start of the race was still 96 degrees.

According to the Texas Aggies website, Kunz’s previous career-best heptathlon score was 6,153 points in 2019. 

In an interview with TexAgs.com the morning after qualifying, a still-overwhelmed Kunz said she was still emotional thinking of the accomplishment.

“I have goosebumps just hearing you say ‘Olympian’ when you introduced me,” she said. “To see it all come to reality and live out this dream that I’ve literally had since I could walk, is a dream come true.” 

She said when she crossed the finish line in the final event and saw her points score up on the results board, it was something she’d never thought would be attainable.

“That’s when the emotion just took over, and I just thank God for the experience,” she said.

Kunz also said she was grateful for the postponement (due to COVID) of the Olympics because of the extra year of valuable track and field training time. Soccer had been her primary sport in high school and college, and she said she’d always felt like she was behind her competitors in terms of training.

With 14 people — family and friends — supporting her at the Oregon trials, Kunz said she didn’t have to look far for people with whom to share her excitement.

“I looked up (into the stands) and I see my family, and that’s when I just lost it again. I just could not be more happy than to celebrate with them,” she said.

Kunz leaves for Tokyo July 26 and competes in the Heptathlon Aug. 4 and 5. She said she won’t be able to attend the opening ceremony due to heightened COVID protocols.

“But with such a crazy year and so much talk about cancellation, I’m just grateful that we get to compete,” she said. “And honestly it might be the best thing for me. I can just think of it as a business trip and I’ll be able to focus a little bit more.”

Kunz, who graduated from Wheat Ridge High School in 2011, was a 2016 graduate of Texas A&M. Her father, Terry, played for the Oakland Raiders and was part of their Super Bowl-winning team in 1976.

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