By Andrew Holman | The Duquesne Duke
For anyone fighting to fulfill a lifelong dream and in need of some added motivation, you can find it in the journey of fifth-year senior and former Duquesne track phenom, Ian Welch.
Welch, who has dreamed of participating in the Olympics since he was a child, will soon get his shot at the world’s biggest competition for long jumpers.
“I just remember watching the Olympics, I watched every summer ever since I was a kid, and I remember I wanted to be one of those guys,” Welch, who finished his final year of eligibility last year, said. “You know, I wanted to be on the big stage.”
Last year, Welch was ranked No. 7 in the country by the NCAA, but failed to finish in the top 12 at regionals. Therefore, he missed out on the national championship, which he believed was well in reach.
“I was like, ‘I’m done. This is ridiculous. I can’t believe I performed this low to not even make the top 12,’” he said. “So at that point I was like, ‘okay, I had a great career. That’s it. It’s over with.’”
In May 2015, Welch nearly gave up on his dreams after failing to finish in the top 12 at regionals.
Welch’s teammate and friend Anna Simone, who is currently training in Arizona for the summer Olympics, helped motivate him when they ran together at Duquesne.
“I think she’s probably had one of the biggest impacts,” Welch said, “because on a personal level from being teammates and from having the same goals and being able to accomplish some of the same things, she’s been one of my biggest motivators for sure.”
Even roughly 2,000 miles away, Welch and Simone are able to push one another in the times when they need it most.
“Whenever I think about how rough it is out here, or how training has me tired every day, or I’m struggling with my own goals that I have to reach – I think of Ian,” Simone said. “I think of how fortunate we both are, how our situations differ, because he is doing this all on his own.”
Welch doesn’t have the same resources as Simone does in Arizona, he is trying to make it work with the limited ones he has here in Pittsburgh. An important resource he does have is his experience running for Duquesne.
Without his experience at on the Bluff, Welch never would have met the people to whom he attributes his success: Coaches Bryan Delsite, Mihaela Tripon, Brian Reed and Simone. Those men and women helped Welch leave a mark after breaking both the long jump and triple jump records during his fourth year.
Welch has stayed closed to the program after he took a position as the assistant-jumps-coach at Duquesne, which he describes as a rewarding experience.
At the moment, Welch is slowly making his way back from a strained hamstring, but once March hits, he says he is going to be taking his training up about “20 notches” with the hope of qualifying for the U.S. Indoor National Championships.
Countless hours of hard work on the track, in the weight room and in the sandpit all lead to one chance of fulfilling a lifelong dream. Although he is content with just giving it his best shot, a spot on the Olympic team would mean a great deal to Welch.
“[A spot on the Olympic team] would be absolutely crazy,” he said. “It’s just one of those things like you’re kind of scared if it actually happens because for a long time it would only be a dream to you, so if it actually happened I might cry. I might cry a lot.”