Former Arkansas runner Dominique Scott-Efurd (2011-15) is headed to her second Olympics after qualifying for 2020 Tokyo Games. She will be representing her native South Africa in both the 5,000m and 10,000m races.
“I’m so excited. A lot has happened in the past five years between the Rio Olympic Games and now Tokyo. I feel so honored to be healthy and fit again and to have qualified and selected by South Africa to head to another Olympic Games.”
Scott-Efurd, a five-time NCAA national champion during her time with the Razorbacks, competed for South Africa in the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she finished 21st in the women’s 10,000m race. But, that was her very first year running professionally. Now she has an Olympics Games under her belt, a handful of races in world championships and is ready to bring that experience to Tokyo.
“(The Rio Olympics) were a dream come true. I just graduated from Arkansas I think two months prior and signed a professional contract with Adidas. It was just coming to me. All my dreams were coming true. I went to those Olympics feeling so proud to have earned my spot on that start line. But I knew I didn’t quiet have what it took to be competing at the front of that race,” said Scott-Efurd.
“But the past five years, I’ve gained so much experience… I do feel like over the past five years, not only have I improved my personal best, but I’ve also gained a ton of experience. I’m definitely heading into these Games with bigger goals.”
Her goal is a top-ten finish in Tokyo, cementing herself as one of the top runners in the world. And she has what it takes to get there.
Scott-Efurd is just starting to build to her peak, running a new lifetime-best (31:19.89) in the 10,000m race at the FBK Games in the Netherlands earlier this month, which is 22 seconds faster than any time she’s run before.
“I do feel like my career has been a slow and steady increase. I’m excited to still be feeling great on the track, in workouts and in races and be bettering my times almost every time I step on the track. It’s exciting to still be getting better, and yeah, I do still think I have some more room for improvement,” Scott-Efurd said.
Even those she’s been to an Olympics before, the experience of heading to Tokyo is still surreal for Scott-Efurd.
Growing up in Stellenbosch, South Africa, there weren’t many opportunities to run track and field. She had to enroll in a boarding school to pursue a chance to compete. The Olympics were a dream which that little girl growing up in Stellenbosch had no idea she would be capable of.
“It’s pretty crazy to me that as a 12-year-old I wasn’t even running track, as a 14-year-old I moved to a boarding school that offered track and field. I just wanted to get to the United States. I thought that would be the coolest thing that I could achieve with my running,” said Scott. “And now to be heading into my second Olympic Games is pretty surreal… and for that I’m really proud of myself.”
Scott-Efurd will be representing South Africa in the 5,000m first-round race in Tokyo on Friday June 30th and in the 10,000m final on Saturday August 7th.