Miranda Melville returns home, Olympic spirit intac
by Jeff DiVeronica Aug. 24, 2016
Miranda Melville has picked up a saying through her travels, which now includes Brazil.
“You’re never a former Olympian or a past Olympian, you’re always an Olympian and to say I have that now it’s just, it’s going to stay with me forever,” the 27-year-old Rush-Henrietta graduate and Olympic race walker said Wednesday afternoon at the Greater Rochester International Airport. “’I’ll have it written on my tombstone if I have to.”
Melville laughed. She was greeted by about a dozen family members and friends at the airport. It followed a near 24-hour travel day back from Rio via Houston and Washington, D.C. She’ll be home for about 12 days and without any upcoming competitions she’s ready to kick back.
“I’m just going to do all the local Rochesterian things you can do — going to Wegmans, eating a garbage plate, going for runs at Mendon Ponds,” said Melville, who is based in San Diego and hasn’t been to Rochester in about 10 months. “I’m looking forward to just relaxing.”
She finished 34th in Friday’s 20-kilometer race walk. After missing out on making the 2012 Games by a couple of seconds, it was just sweet to compete. She took 26th in the World Championships last year and said she was ranked 39th before the Olympics. She was hoping for a top-30 finish, but the conditions weren’t great on an 84-degree, breezy day.
“My heart just explodes, that’s how proud I am of her,” her mother, Carla, said at the airport. “I know how hard she’s worked and how dedicated she is … It’s just wonderful to see her reach a dream like this. What parent couldn’t be excited?”
Carla, her husband Dave, and Miranda’s brother, Alex, 35, went to Brazil for six days. If things go as Miranda wants, they’ll be going to Tokyo to follow her in the 2020 Olympics.
“I think your first Olympics you go for the experience, you go to experience everything of being an Olympian, as opposed to I hear after that you’re going more to compete, you’re going to try to medal, to be that top 10 no matter what,” Melville said. “I think that’s more of what the next four years are going to be about, developing that part of my life and hopefully getting up to that rank.”
Probably the most famous athlete Melville met was tennis superstar Rafael Nadal. Standing in the tunnel before the opening ceremonies, that’s when it all became real to her and “your heart starts beating faster.” But the best part, to her, was her race.
“You go there to compete,” she said. “It’s competing against the best in the world that made it there and that’s what I wanted to do. That was the goal and I did it.”
If she’s good enough to make it again in 2020, Rio will always give her goosebumps.
“They say that your first Olympics is the one you hold closest to your heart, so if I make 2020, I’m sure Rio will stay very close to me heart. It was very beautiful down there. You’re in a huge city surrounded by a rainforest … you’re surrounded with tons of wonderful and amazing athletes that you just respect to no end.”