Iowa to Tokyo: Karissa Schweizer’s Olympic journey 15 years in the making

Japan 2020

URBANDALE, Iowa — The road to the Tokyo Olympics started for Karissa Schweizer in Urbandale and, as her proud parents share, it’s a journey 15 years in the making.

“Track started in fifth grade and this timid little girl found her home,” said Kathy Schweizer, Karissa’s mother.

First at Saint Pius, then for Dowling Catholic, Karissa showed more than just a love for running. Her father calls it “grit.”

“She always believes in herself. And never gives up. The little defeats actually help her get stronger,” said Mike Schweizer, Karissa’s father.

For the Schweizer family, running runs in the family. Her brother, Ryan, and sister, Kelsey, are also Division I runners. Karissa’s grandfather coached at Dowling for decades.

“And then their grandpa of course says, ‘When are you going to get them into something they’re good at?’ He pushed for the track a little bit more than we did but it was nice that we didn’t have to push so hard. Which is OK, because we didn’t push them,” said Kathy.

As what to expect in Tokyo, they are beyond proud and know that Karissa will do her best.

“If it’s a close race, she says this a lot of times, just put herself in position. Anything can happen. And really that grit will carry her through,” said Mike.

Karissa competes in the 5,000-meter final on Monday, Aug. 2 at 7:40 a.m. She also runs in the 10,000-meter final on Saturday, Aug. 7 at 5:45 a.m.

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