Former BYU athlete Courtney Wayment focuses on ‘faith over fear’ in preparation for U.S. Olympic Trials

Wayment will compete at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials for the second time in June

Courtney Wayment was so close to realizing her Olympic dream in 2021.

Wayment, a Brigham Young University collegiate champion from Kaysville, Utah, delivered a phenomenal performance in the finals of the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon, except for one thing.

Only the top three finishers qualify to represent the U.S. in the Olympic Games, and Wayment came in fourth.

Now three years later, the Latter-day Saint runner is preparing to return to Oregon to compete at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials at the prelims on June 24 and the finals on June 27. Her mindset and approach have not changed.

BYU’s Courtney Wayment competes in the steeplechase at the NCAA Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon in June 2021. | BYU Photo

“I would say the thing that’s on my mind as it comes up is faith over fear,” Wayment said. “That was my motto, ‘Faith over fear,’ going into that race, where I just had faith that whether I made a team or I don’t — or I didn’t then, and I guess it still applies now — whether I make a team or I don’t, having faith in the process and having fun with the journey of it.”

The 25-year-old Wayment told the story as she reflected in an interview with the Church News on her passion for running, her career and her faith as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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Who is Courtney Wayment?

After playing soccer and being nominated as Gatorade Player of the Year for Utah Women’s Cross Country in high school, Wayment moved on to compete as a runner at BYU, where she was a four-time NCAA Division I champion and an eight-time All-American.

She finished her stellar college career by winning the women’s steeplechase — a 3,000-meter race that includes obstacles, such as hurdles and a water pit — at the 2022 NCAA Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon. At the meet, she clocked a personal best time of 9 minutes, 16 seconds, breaking her own school record, the collegiate record and the meet record, while running the fifth-fastest steeplechase time in United States history.

Courtney Wayment, a runner on the BYU women’s distance team, poses for a portrait at the Robison Track and Field Complex at BYU in Provo, Utah, on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. Wayment is preparing to compete in her second U.S. Olympic Trials in June 2024. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Since then, Wayment has competed with two Team USA senior national teams, running at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, in 2022 and in Budapest, Hungary, in 2023.

She is the daughter of Mark and Becky Wayment, who were members of the cross-country and track and field teams at Weber State University. Her father also competed in the steeplechase; the two-time All-American was inducted into the Weber State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000.

While expressing appreciation for her supportive parents, Courtney Wayment said: “They have made so many sacrifices for me in my life. ... They have offered me a lot of strength.”

‘Something special’

Wayment first discovered her talent for running in seventh grade but didn’t compete in the 3,000-meter steeplechase until she got to BYU and convinced Diljeet Taylor, the women’s distance running coach, to let her try it.

Taylor instructed Wayment to write down the time “10:04″ and put it where she would see if often. With Taylor’s guidance and Wayment’s dedication, the young runner quickly improved her times.

Wayment ran her first steeplechase at BYU in 10:13. She hit 10:04 in a race a short time later.

Before competing professionally and as a student at Brigham Young University, Courtney Wayment competed at Davis High School and won the girls 5A state high school cross country championship in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015. | Ravell Call, Deseret News

“That was when me and coach Taylor were like, ‘Yeah, there’s something special here,” Wayment said. “Coach Taylor has changed my life.”

Wayment said she is grateful for her experience at BYU, where she learned how to compete and associated with “many good people.”

Preparing for the trials

How does a runner prepare for the steeplechase at the U.S. Olympic trials?

The answer involves a lot of running — “cardio stuff” — for miles and miles, some weightlifting and cross-training, 10-plus hours of sleep and occasional naps, a nutritional diet and balanced mental and emotional health.

“Almost every tiny decision that you make in your day is leading you towards the Olympic trials,” Wayment said.

Latter-day Saint distance runner Courtney Wayment dominated the women’s steeplechase race at the 2022 NCAA track and field championships in Eugene, Oregon, on June 11, 2022.
Latter-day Saint distance runner Courtney Wayment dominated the women’s steeplechase race at the 2022 NCAA Track and Field Championships on June 11, 2022. | Credit: Nate Edwards, BYU

Meaningful lessons

Both running and her faith in Jesus Christ have taught Wayment meaningful lessons about belief, resilience, faith and hope.

”The things that I have learned from running are similar things that I have learned from the Church. I think they go hand in hand,” she said. “In my life, it’s been very evident and obvious that God’s hand is so deep into our lives, and everything is very intertwined. I would say some of my best and most spiritual experiences have come from running. And so, the Church has helped navigate my life to help me be really grounded in God.”

When speaking to Latter-day Saint youth, her message centers on developing a relationship with Heavenly Father and the Savior.

“I know how hard it is to be a youth,” she said. “God loves you, He hears you, and He knows you.”

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