As former track star Christina Clemons crossed the finish line at the U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon last month, she couldn't help but cry.
"I mean, it was the joy that I felt was ..." Clemons said before pausing, "I could cry right now. That joy that I felt was something I haven't felt before."
At age 31, Clemons felt this was her final chance to make the Olympics roster after first trying out for the team in 2012.
"Everything that I had to deal with, the moments I felt were taken away from me from a huge part of my career, from which would have been considered by prime... I knew it was all God and just the plan he had for me," she said.
After not qualifying for the 2012 games, Clemons experienced the first and only injury of her career the year following, tearing her Achilles.
The injury kept her out for many months before even beginning rehab, but she was able to get back in time for the 2016 trials, where she failed to qualify once again. After another delayed year in the Olympics due to the COVID-19 pause, this time around felt different.
"I have never, ever felt like I felt at these trials," she said. "Because I knew there was so much on the line, and I knew that I was going to make this team when I flew out to Eugene ... I just wanted it so badly."
Clemons also added that she hopes her experiences, as well as the Olympic platform she's on, inspire other people.
"Now, I am able to use my platform and everything that I've been through to inspire people to help them to keep going on and keep fighting for their dreams," she said.
Clemons will compete in the women's 100-meter hurdles event next week in Tokyo. While she may not be wearing her all-too-talked-about Doritos earrings she wore at the trials, her fashion choices will be something to look out for come post time. However, it is something that Clemons said she still needs to figure out.
"Usually, I figure out how I'm going to do my hair and my makeup the night before or the day of the race. And man Tokyo, I'm going to have to figure out before then. But, I have not figured it out yet," she said.
Like all Olympians, Clemons said she is excited to get to Tokyo and that she has a much bigger goal in mind.
"The Olympic Trials is huge, but it's just the qualifying, you know? I'm gunning for that medal ... the goal medal, and I'm ready to bring it home," Clemons said.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics begin with the Opening Ceremony on Friday, July 23.