Maria Michta, LIU Post 2008 Valedictorian, Achieves Personal Best at London Olympics
Now in medical school, Nesconset, N.Y. native cracks top 30 in women’s 20km race walk
Stephanie Koithan,Internal Communications Coordinator
LIU Post, Long Island University
Brookville, N.Y. – Maria Michta, valedictorian of LIU Post's Class of 2008, completed the women's Olympic 20-kilometer walk on Saturday, Aug. 11, placing 29th out of 61 athletes. Michta smashed her personal best by finishing in one hour, 32 minutes and 37 seconds—over two minutes faster than she had ever raced in her life.
Maria walked a 12.4-mile race through St. James Park in the heart of London, passing Buckingham Palace for 10 laps on a 2 km loop. After qualifying in the USA Olympic Trials held in Eugene, Ore. July 1, Michta was the only athlete representing the United States in the race.
Russia's Elena Lashmanova took home gold and broke the world and Olympic record time by finishing in 1:25:02. Russia's Olga Kaniskina (1:25:09) won the silver and China's Shenjie Qieyang (1:25:16) took home the bronze.
Though she didn't win a medal, Michta cut two minutes and 25 seconds off her personal best race time and walked the distance faster than any American 20k walker in the history of the Olympic Games.
"All in all, it was the best race of my entire life," Michta told Newsday. "I could never have planned it better."
Michta graduated from LIU Post in 2008 with a B.S. in biology but missed her graduation to compete in a qualifying race for the Beijing Olympics. She delivered a short video message to the class of 2008 via a large screen in the Commencement tent.
While a student at LIU Post, Michta was a member of the cross country and track teams and interned at Brookhaven National Lab. Michta is now pursuing doctoral studies in microbiology at Manhattan's Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
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