By Samantha Gorman
Ed Trippas ’21 of the Princeton University Track and Field/Cross Country Team produced an outstanding 3,000-meter steeplechase performance on June 29 to earn a spot on the Australian Olympic Team.
“It’s the kind of thing you dream of as a kid when you are in this sport, so for it to actually happen is definitely a dream come true,” Trippas said.
In dramatic fashion, on the final day to qualify for the Olympics, Trippas bested his PR to run 8:19.60 in Castellon, Spain, three seconds under the Olympic qualifying standard.
The time launched Trippas to third on the Australian all-time list and 10th on the NCAA all-time list.
“Ed is very serious in how he takes himself and how he takes his training,” said Princeton University Cross Country Coach and Distance Coach Jason Vigilante. “He does a really good job doing small things to keep himself healthy, so I think he is always prepared for training.”
When asked if the Olympics has been a goal for Trippas while he has been training at Princeton, Vigilante said, “Absolutely. I think it’s helpful for athletes to have a long-range goal and a vision for who they can be.”
According to Trippas, it is this zealous vision that helped him earn his first Olympic berth.
“There were times where I didn’t necessarily think it would happen, but [Vigilante] would always tell me, ‘You can do this, I think you can be an Olympian.’ It is his belief in me that has driven me,” he said.
Trippas said he always races best when he is excited. As June 29 was the last day to qualify for the Olympics, excitement was ample.
“I just went into the race very excited to test myself and to see if I could do it. The race ended up being perfect for that, and coming out with the time I ran was super exciting.”
Staying calm is vital to a successful race and Trippas did just that.
Once he realized he did not need to run a very fast last lap to secure the time he was hoping for, his mentality shifted “from trying to win the race to trying to finish as safely as possible without falling over any jumps. For the last water jump and the last hurdle, all I was thinking about was just making it over without falling,” he said.
Despite a clean final lap, Trippas was unaware of his time until 10 minutes after the race had ended. With no WiFi and no scoreboard, the third place finisher was left looking over someone else’s shoulder, impatiently waiting for the live results to refresh on that person’s phone.
“It felt like an eternity,” he said. “When [the results] finally came in and just being able to see it there was crazy. It is a moment where there’s an instant rush; where everything has finally come together.”
For the past year, Trippas and other teammates were on a leave of absence from
Princeton University for the 2020-21 school year to focus on training.
“I didn’t want my last year to be online classes. I wanted to have the experience of being on campus and to run for Princeton and be a part of the team again,” Trippas said.
“And rather than having to worry about waking up at 3 a.m. to do class back home in Australia when I was trying to train, I could just focus on the training.”
Hailing from Sydney, Australia, Trippas was drawn to Princeton on his first visit, despite some poor circumstances.
“It was one of those 38 degree and raining New Jersey days, and I knew he was coming from Sydney,” Vigilante remembers Trippas’ recruiting visit with a chuckle.
The charm of the campus and the confidence he felt in Vigilante’s coaching were not the only two reasons Trippas chose Princeton, he explained.
“The biggest factor for me both joining the team and enjoying my time on the team has been the people I have had around me … they have made the experience so enjoyable.
“I think what is unique to our team is the relationships and how close we are … it has ultimately been a huge factor in me being able to reach the level I have (attained) just from being pushed by those guys.”
After a year off, Trippas will return to Princeton as an Olympian and a team captain for the
2021-22 school year.
“I miss the moments in the locker room, the dining hall and at practice; the ones you take for granted every day. But once they are gone you kind of look back and you think, ‘Oh wow, that was something I didn’t necessarily think was very special at the time.’ It’s those moments I’m really excited to have again this year.”
But first, Trippas has a ticket to Tokyo with his name on it.
“I’m really looking forward to it because I don’t think there is much expectation. All the pressure will come from me wanting to do my best,” he said. “I don’t have anything to lose.”
Trippas will be joined in Tokyo by three current and former Princeton Tigers: Lizzie Bird ’17 will compete for Great Britain in the steeplechase; Julia Ratcliffe ’17 will compete for New Zealand in the hammer throw; and Sondre Guttormsen ’23 will represent Norway in the pole vault.
Ed Trippas will be racing the first round of the 3,000-meter steeplechase on July 29 at 8 p.m. EST.