Simpson athlete shares in Olympic glory


by Brandon Newell

Dr. Dick Kohler was inspired to see Simpson senior Kate Olesen carry the Olympic Torch through Omaha, Neb.

Kohler, a dentist and assistant boys’ basketball coach from Winterset, nominated Olesen. He considered her an inspiration because of her battle with rheumatoid arthritis while trying to pursue her love for sports.

Olesen has overcome the challenge and persisted to continue to be active in sports. She has participated in cross country and basketball at Simpson.

“Most people have the misconception that people run all the way across America, but actually you only run through designated cities,” Olesen said.

At the meeting point, people began to swap stories about why they were selected to carry the torch.

“There were some really exceptional people there. For instance, there was a fifteen-year-old boy who donated part or his liver and spleen out of the goodness of his heart.”

Olesen’s anticipation grew as she was transported to her designated interval, five blocks prior to the half-mile run on Omaha’s Dodge Street.

“I couldn’t describe the feeling, as a lady with no legs and one arm in a wheel chair was about to pass me the torch,” she said.

Dodge Street was packed with bystanders as Olesen passed with torch in hand.

“There were literally mobs of people wanting to see the torch relay. When the moment to bear the torch came, that butterfly feeling went out the window. I was really stuck in the moment and it was the coolest thing I have ever done in my life. I don’t remember, but I think I may have run too fast because my adrenaline was sure pumping,” she said, laughing.

Olesen said she could not believe the outpouring from the many people that were there to watch the relay.

“When I got done running, people mobbed me, waving the American flag. Some embraced me, some were gesturing for my autograph, some were thanking me, and others were crying.”