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Olympic track hopeful Eric Holt quits job, moves in with parents to focus on making Paris Games

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Olympic track hopeful Eric Holt quits job, moves in with parents to focus on making Paris Games
Sport

Sport

Olympic track hopeful Eric Holt quits job, moves in with parents to focus on making Paris Games

2024-06-23 00:40 Last Updated At:04:50

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Middle-distance runner Eric Holt quit his job and moved back in with his parents. They pay his cell phone bill and let him use the car for a long commute to practice. He works out in any pair of running shoes he happens to get for free and babysits at his sister's place for extra meal money.

Anything to keep his costs low and his training high.

Never quite fast enough to earn a lucrative shoe deal, he’s put everything on hold to chase a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in the 800 and 1,500 meters at track and field trials.

The 29-year-old from New York is making a big investment in himself.

“All of the struggles he’s had, all of the people that have said he can’t do it, that he’s not talented enough — this is the great American story,” his coach, John Trautmann, said as Holt advanced to the semifinal round of the 1,500 meters. “Hopefully, it has the All-American ending, too."

Holt was a state champion in high school and a multi-time conference champion at Binghamton University. After that, he figured his running career was wrapping up.

His good friend, Jacob Sweet, wrote a lengthy paper on him as part of a creative writing project at Yale.

The title: “Running with Eric.”

The theme: Holt’s relentless quest to break the four-minute barrier in the mile. It included the lengths Holt traversed to achieve it, even shoveling snow from a lane of a track to train. It was an admirable determination from the “most tenacious and inspiring person I've ever met,” Sweet said in a text. “Just the nicest, most genuine guy in the world.”

What it really did was rekindle Holt's drive.

“I mean, for me, just having someone believe in you goes a long way,” Holt said. “Having a friend like Jacob writing a paper about me, how he was so enthralled with my success, it just made me want to work hard. It made me love the sport again.”

Holt would center his training around working the late shift at a psychiatric ward as a mental-health worker. Sometimes, he'd log 13-hour shifts at his arduous job and then go to practice.

“I’ve been kicked in the knee. I’ve been punched,” Holt said. “I’ll never forget one day where I was struggling through a workout because my knee was swollen, because I got kicked right in the knee. It could be really tough.”

But his times were improving, even if the respect didn't always follow. At the 2019 Monmouth Mile, he remembered the words of someone who was concerned he might “slow down the field,” Holt recalled. "It just motivated me.”

He won that day — in 3:58.88. At long last, he broke the 4-minute barrier.

“From there I saw light at the end of the tunnel," Holt said. "I knew I could get a lot better."

His late-night workouts drew the attention of Trautmann. He and fellow coach, Tom Nohilly, were looking at performances on Strava, an app that tracks exercise with a social-network component, when they noticed this runner in the area posting his training sessions at all hours.

They were intrigued. They discovered his background. They reached out.

That’s how Holt ended up at the Empire Elite Track Club with Trautmann, a standout at Georgetown and a 1992 Olympian in the 5,000 meters. Like Holt, Trautmann rediscovered his love of running. The 55-year-old Trautmann got away from the sport, steadily worked his way back into the running world and into coaching.

They just clicked.

“He believed in me,” said Holt, who made it to the semifinal round of the 1,500 at the 2021 Olympic trials. “The sky was the limit.”

First, some life modifications. He switched to the day shift at work before going all in and stepping away from his job about a year ago.

He had a nest egg built up.

To preserve his bank account any way he could, he followed his parents to Connecticut, which meant at least a 90-minute one-way commute to get to practice in Westchester County. He borrows his parents' car for the trips and ate at home.

Holt sometimes received free shoes from local running stores ("I'll wear whatever," he said). But he did splurge on racing spikes. His girlfriend pays when they go out, with his solemn vow that someday, should he earn a sponsorship deal, he will treat.

“I’m frugal," Holt said, “and I’m careful with my money.”

He said he received a $10,000 stipend from the USA Track and Field Foundation to help make ends meet. Even earning a little bit of prize money at small races is reason to celebrate — inexpensively, of course.

The idea of being sponsored?

“Getting paid a livable salary and doing what I love, it just sounds too good to be true,” he said.

Holt recently flashed his talent at the USATF NYC Grand Prix, finishing runner-up in the 1,500 meters to 2022 world champion Jake Wightman. It showed he was on the right track.

“I’m betting on myself,” Holt said. “I’m putting in the work and believe I’m talented and deserving enough to get a good contract.

“I want to show sponsors and the world that I am a contender, that I’m a good runner.”

AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games

Eric Holt responds to questions during a news conference before the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, Thursday, June 20, 2024, in Eugene, Ore. Holt will compete in the 800m and 1500m races. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Eric Holt responds to questions during a news conference before the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, Thursday, June 20, 2024, in Eugene, Ore. Holt will compete in the 800m and 1500m races. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Eric Holt responds to questions during a news conference before the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, Thursday, June 20, 2024, in Eugene, Ore. Holt will compete in the 800m and 1500m races. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Eric Holt responds to questions during a news conference before the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, Thursday, June 20, 2024, in Eugene, Ore. Holt will compete in the 800m and 1500m races. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Eric Holt competes in a heat in the men's 1500-meter run during the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Team Trials Friday, June 21, 2024, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Eric Holt competes in a heat in the men's 1500-meter run during the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Team Trials Friday, June 21, 2024, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Donald Trump said he plans to announce his vice presidential pick on Monday, the first day of the Republican National Convention.

It remains unclear whether the assassination attempt Saturday at his Pennsylvania rally has changed the former president's thinking about his potential second-in-command. But he told Fox News Channel host Bret Baier in a call that he planned to make his pick Monday.

The roll call vote to nominate that person is expected Monday, according to a person with direct knowledge of the schedule who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The person cautioned that Trump could always change his mind.

After Saturday's shooting, Trump's choice carries considerably more gravity. If a bullet had struck just a little bit to the right, Trump likely would have been killed or seriously injured.

The close call puts in stark relief the significance of a position that is a heartbeat away from the presidency. Trump has repeatedly claimed that choosing someone who was qualified to take over as commander in chief was his top consideration for the role.

“You need somebody that can be good just in case, that horrible just in case,” he said in an interview with “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show” in May.

In an interview with Fox News’ Harris Faulkner taped hours before the Butler, Pennsylvania, rally, Trump was asked about how close he was to his VP pick and whether his decision-making would change if President Joe Biden steps aside.

“It’s a very important position especially if something bad should happen,” Trump said. “That’s the most important, if something bad should happen.”

Those on Trump's shortlist have differing levels of governing experience. Ohio Sen. JD Vance, for instance, has been in office less than two years, while North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum helms a state with a population (780,000 people) smaller than Columbus, Ohio (908,000). Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has been in politics for decades and is in his third term in the Senate.

Before the shooting, Trump had made clear that he wanted to dramatically reveal his pick at the convention, which he said would make it more “interesting” and “exciting.”

“It’s like a highly sophisticated version of ‘The Apprentice,’” he quipped in a radio interview last week, referring to the show he once hosted that featured him firing contestants on camera.

Trump and convention organizers have said the RNC's schedule will go on as planned despite the shooting, with Trump writing on his social media site that he could not “allow a ‘shooter,’ or potential assassin, to force change to scheduling, or anything else.”

“In this moment, it is more important than ever that we stand United, and show our True Character as Americans, remaining Strong and Determined, and not allowing Evil to Win,” he wrote.

He held meetings in the days before the shooting with the top contenders. All have submitted material, including bios and photographs, to convention organizers that can be used to prepare content if they're picked, according to multiple people familiar with the conversations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the secretive process.

The private meetings with Vance, Rubio and Burgum were first reported by ABC News.

Nothing was offered during the meetings, one of the people said.

Trump waiting until the convention to choose a running mate is later than usual for recent cycles but is hardly unprecedented.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan negotiated with former President Gerald Ford for hours during the Republican convention in Detroit but settled on his former primary rival George H.W. Bush when those discussions collapsed. Reagan cut it so close that his decision came less than 24 hours before he formally accepted the GOP nomination.

Bush himself waited until the 1988 Republican convention in New Orleans before shocking many attendees — as well as some of the then-vice president’s own top advisers — by picking little-known Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle to be his No. 2, rather than a more established running mate.

Since then, though, the tradition has been to pick a running mate shortly before the candidate’s party’s convention opens.

In 2008, Arizona Sen. John McCain, looking for a way to reset his race against Democrat Barack Obama, picked little-known Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin shortly before the Republican convention opened in Minnesota. He got a bump in the polls that didn't last.

Biden, a Democrat, tapped then-California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate six days before his party opened its convention, which was held mostly virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. And Trump chose Indiana Gov. Mike Pence in the days before the 2016 Republican convention opened in Cleveland.

Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Will Weissert contributed to this report from Washington.

Follow the AP's coverage of the 2024 election at https://apnews.com/hub/election-2024.

Security vehicles are parked outside the home of Ohio Sen. JD Vance, who is on Donald Trump's vice presidential short list, Monday, July 15, 2024, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

Security vehicles are parked outside the home of Ohio Sen. JD Vance, who is on Donald Trump's vice presidential short list, Monday, July 15, 2024, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

Security vehicles are parked outside the home of Ohio Sen. JD Vance, who is on Donald Trump's vice presidential short list, Monday, July 15, 2024, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

Security vehicles are parked outside the home of Ohio Sen. JD Vance, who is on Donald Trump's vice presidential short list, Monday, July 15, 2024, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

Security vehicles are parked outside the home of Ohio Sen. JD Vance, who is on Donald Trump's vice presidential short list, Monday, July 15, 2024, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

Security vehicles are parked outside the home of Ohio Sen. JD Vance, who is on Donald Trump's vice presidential short list, Monday, July 15, 2024, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

Former President Trump waves to supporters after arriving to the Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport ahead of the 2024 Republican National Convention, Sunday, July 14, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Former President Trump waves to supporters after arriving to the Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport ahead of the 2024 Republican National Convention, Sunday, July 14, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

FILE - Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks, June 14, 2024, in West Palm Beach, Fla. Rubio is a top contender to be selected as Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump's running mate. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

FILE - Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks, June 14, 2024, in West Palm Beach, Fla. Rubio is a top contender to be selected as Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump's running mate. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump, right, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum attend a caucus night rally, Feb. 8, 2024, in Las Vegas. Burgum, who has grown close with the former president since he dropped his own bid for the nomination before voting began, is the third top contender for Trump's running mate. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump, right, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum attend a caucus night rally, Feb. 8, 2024, in Las Vegas. Burgum, who has grown close with the former president since he dropped his own bid for the nomination before voting began, is the third top contender for Trump's running mate. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

FILE - Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, right, points toward Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally, March 16, 2024, in Vandalia, Ohio. Vance is a top contender to be selected as Trump's running mate. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean, File)

FILE - Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, right, points toward Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally, March 16, 2024, in Vandalia, Ohio. Vance is a top contender to be selected as Trump's running mate. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean, File)

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, July 9, 2024, in Doral, Fla. Trump waiting until the actual convention to choose a running mate is later than usual for recent cycles, but hardly unprecedented. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, July 9, 2024, in Doral, Fla. Trump waiting until the actual convention to choose a running mate is later than usual for recent cycles, but hardly unprecedented. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

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