The fourth time is a charm, and Olivia Fleming couldn’t be more thrilled.
Fleming, a senior sprinter at Walkertown, has experienced some personal turmoil during her high school career. For three consecutive years she was on the 4x100 relay team that qualified for the state outdoor track and field championships. But she never got the chance to run because of epilepsy.
Throughout the ordeal, Fleming remained steadfast in her fierce desire to compete.
This year, the storyline is different. She hasn’t had any medical issues, which paved the way for her to run for the first time in the NCHSAA Class 2-A state championship meet last week. She ran the second leg of the 4x100 relay.
“In the month of May for the last three years, my track season ended early because of seizures,” Fleming said. “Not being able to run was very discouraging. But I refused to quit because I love to run. I’ve been doing this since seventh grade. It’s not something that I’ll give up.”
Fleming said she believes her prayer life and her willingness to talk about her medical condition has made a monumental difference. Going through those years of continuous setbacks, she explained, has strengthened her resolve to succeed in spite of difficult circumstances.
“I continue to stay in prayer,” said Fleming, who has a 3.5 GPA. “God is doing an amazing job and I am so thankful. My doctors told me that my seizures are more than likely caused by stress and anxiety. So, I’ve learned that opening up to others about my medical condition is beneficial. I know that it’s OK to feel disappointed or scared about doing something.
“Talking about it helps me to better manage any anxiety I might be feeling. The support I get from my parents, teammates and peers is great. My parents always told me, ‘We don’t raise quitters’ and that really stuck with me. My drive to keep going, even when things get tough, made me a stronger person. Now, I’m a lot more confident in who I am as an individual.”
Looking back on this season, the most memorable moments came at the Western Piedmont Athletic 2-A championships and Midwest 2-A Regional. Walkertown won the conference title in the 4x100 relay with relative ease.
That wasn’t the case at the regional. The Wolfpack qualified for the state meet with a third-place finish. The top four teams made it to state.
“We didn’t have to work as hard at the conference championships,” said Fleming, who plans to major in psychology at N.C. A&T next fall. “At the regionals, it was nerve-wracking, and the competition was a lot tougher. But we stayed strong mentally, gave it our all and things worked out for us.”