Family, former coach react after Sioux City's Shelby Houlihan ma - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Family, former coach react after Sioux City's Shelby Houlihan makes U.S. Olympic Team

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  • Family, former coach react after Sioux City's Shelby Houlihan makes U.S. Olympic TeamMore>>

  • VIDEO: Good Luck Shelby!

    VIDEO: Good Luck Shelby!

    Courtesy: Kristie VerMulm/Shelby HoulihanCourtesy: Kristie VerMulm/Shelby Houlihan

    Family, friends and the community gathered together to wish Sioux City native and East High graduate Shelby Houlihan good luck in the Rio Olympics. 

    More >>

    Family, friends and the community gathered together to wish Sioux City native and East High graduate Shelby Houlihan good luck in the Rio Olympics. 

    More >>
SIOUX CITY (KTIV) -

It's a dream come true for Sioux City-native Shelby Houlihan. She'll represent her country, in Rio, after making the U.S. Olympic track team.

Houlihan burst into tears after crossing the finish line at Sunday's Olympic Trials, in Oregon. In the stands? Her parents Connie, and Bob. Both were stunned. "I had my phone out to take pictures, and I couldn't take pictures," said Bob Houlihan, Shelby's Father.

Shelby Houlihan, the college All-American, and NCAA champion, who has eight state titles, and eight Drake Relays titles to her name, typically excels in middle distance events. "This is the 5000 meters," said Bob Houlihan. "It's not her race. It's only like the second time she ever ran it."

When looking at Shelby's success, hard work plays an enormous part, but so does biology. "I was still competing when they were little," said Connie Houlihan, Shelby's Mother. Connie Houlihan has run her whole life, qualifying for the 1987 World Cup, and competing in the World Championships the same year. "I used to take them to meets," said Connie Houlihan. "They would run the mile, and that started out that way. They started out with cross country when they were 3, 4, and 5."

Even then, Connie said Shelby wanted to be the best. "She had dreamt all those years, even at age 5, that she wanted to be an Olympian," said Connie Houlihan.

By high school, Connie and Bob knew Shelby should focus on track, and Shelby knew it, too. "We kind of let her do what she wanted to do," said Connie Houlihan. "It was never like this 'push-shove' thing. And, I think that was really important for her."

Enter track coach Rick Clarahan. "You knew she was talented," said Rick Clarahan, East High School Track Coach. Her freshman year, she placed at the Drake Relays, and at the state meet where she helped set a state record in the 4 x 400 relay. "You knew she was one of the best people in the country especially by the schools that recruited her," said Clarahan. "She got recruited by every top track program in the country." Shelby settled on Arizona State, and set school records in the 800 meters, 1500 meters, the mile, and 3000 meters before turning pro.

"With her, she just wants to run well. If she [sets a personal record] and comes in last, she'll be happy," said Bob Houlihan.

But, with Rio looming, expectations are high. "She hopes to medal," said Connie Houlihan. And, cap her young career with a win for herself, and for her country on the world's biggest stage.

Connie Houlihan says Shelby has thought about making the U.S. Olympic team since she was 5-years-old. For the last few months, Shelby had to face that goal every time she looked in the mirror at her apartment. Written in big, bold capital letters was the statement, "I will be an Olympian."

Shelby will arrive in Rio a few days before her race in the 5000 meters.

Round one of the 5000 meters will be held at 8:30 am Brazil time, on Tuesday, August 16th. That's 6:30am back here in Siouxland.

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