An Evening With Abbey Cooper

Runner Abbey D’Agostino Cooper takes her sport—the 5,000 meters—seriously. She is deep in training for this year’s world championships and setting her sights on the Paris Olympics in 2024.

But she acknowledges that her experiences over the past six years have shifted her focus and driven home more powerfully the need to be fit in multiple dimensions—physically, mentally and spiritually. This theme ran throughout her talk at the February 19 Twin City Track Club Winter Seminar, titled “Grit and Grace.”

Cooper began with a look at a powerful moment in her career, her fall and injury at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. A moment at once beautiful and heartbreaking, this incident revealed in her the grit we all hope is inside us: That ability to be open to what life brings, to hold things lightly, to look failure full on and know that it doesn’t have to be the end. This grit comes from a profound dependence on the grace of God and her belief that He is working in and through all the moments of her life.

Coming back from her injury, setting a personal record in the sport she loves, narrowly missing making the team for the Tokyo Olympics, all of these turns in her path have demonstrated again and again that her life isn’t straight and predictable—none of ours are. But these turns can bring inimitable beauty and strength if we meet them with grit and grace.

TCTC members Bob and Karen Preli found the talk, and the numerous questions Abbey spent time answering, to be inspiring, and they were encouraged by her attitude. “We thought her talk should have been titled, ‘Grit, Grace and Gratitude,’” says Karen.

TCTC member Karen Prelim speaks with Abbey Cooper at the Winter Seminar

Indeed, all three are hallmarks of Cooper’s career and outlook. And, as she looks to the 2024 Olympics, maybe she’ll draw inspiration from another gritty, grace-filled runner who competed in Paris nearly a century ago, in 1924: Eric Liddell of Chariots of Fire fame.

Read more about Abbey Cooper’s talk and see some of her questions and answers in Eddie Wooten’s Running Shorts.