Kenyan-born Janet Bawcom will compete in the 10,000 meter run in London and will be the first woman from her country to compete on the American track and field team. This is her first Olympics, though she is well known in the US with national titles in the 10-K, 15-K, 10 mile, 20-K and 25-K distances. Bawcom came to the US to attend little Harding University in Arkansas where she got a degree in health care management. She's now pursuing a nursing license.
I love the story NBC tells about how a chance encounter changed her life:
Bawcom grew up the oldest of eight siblings in a single-parent household in a village near Kapsabet, Kenya where running was culturally unacceptable for females. When she was 19 years old, Bawcom was walking to a bus stop on the way to visit an aunt in the hospital 40 miles away when a stranger offered her a ride. With little money to spare for bus fare, she accepted. That stranger was Peter Rono, the 1988 Olympic 1500m champion. He told her about how running could be a route to American colleges for Kenyans. After that chance encounter, Bawcom began running. Two years later, she was noticed at a local track by a Harding University coach who happened to be visiting his home in Kenya. He offered her a scholarship and she accepted.