Olympic Runner: UCR Alumna Brenda Martinez Advances To Semifinals; Her Top Moments at UCR

Martinez finished in third place in the 1,500m Friday afternoon at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, advancing to Sunday's semifinals.

Brenda Martinez’s first race for the 2016 Summer Olympics begins Aug. 12 at 4:30 p.m. (PST). ucr file

UC Riverside three-time All-American Brenda Martinez finished in third place in the 1,500m Friday afternoon at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, advancing to Sunday’s semifinals which takes place at 5:30 p.m. (PST).

The World Record holder in the event, Gensebe Dibaba, won the heat, finishing in 4:10.61. Martinez crossed the finish line in 4:11.74. Only two-hundreds of a second separated third place from sixth in Martinez’s heat. The top six runners in each heat, plus the next six best times, advances to Sunday’s semifinals.

Martinez, a 2010 UCR alum, qualified for Rio in the 1,500-meter race by a mere 0.03 seconds, placing third at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Now, she is ready to compete at the Rio Olympic Stadium, representing the United States – and UC Riverside for that matter – in the first heat of the women’s 1,500-meter preliminaries.

If she advances from the semifinals, scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 14 at 5:30 p.m., she will move onto the finals, set for Tuesday, Aug. 16 at 6:30 p.m.

Martinez had an impressive career at UCR, setting numerous records and earning the All-American title three times. In the spirit of her Olympic debut, take a look back at Martinez’s amazing accomplishments:

  • October 29, 2005— Martinez becomes the first member of the Highlanders, male or female, to finish in the top 10 in the Big West Cross Country Championship, coming in tenth with a time of 21:43.5.
  • January 26, 2007—Martinez runs the anchor leg of the Women’s Indoor Distance Medley at the University of Washington Invitational, setting the Highlanders’ program record in the event.
  • May 13, 2007—Martinez wins the first of her seven Big West Conference Track & Field championships, taking the 1,500m with a time of 4:23.87.
  • May 27, 2008—Martinez is named the UCR Female Student-Athlete of the Year. She earns this honor again in 2009 and the title of UCR’s Co-Female Student Athlete of the Year in 2010.
  • February 14, 2009—Martinez breaks the school record in the Indoor Mile with an NCAA provisional qualifying time of 4:39.92 at the University of Washington Husky Classic, becoming the first UC Riverside student-athlete during the Highlanders’ Division I-era to qualify for the NCAA Indoor National Championship.
  • March 14, 2009—Martinez breaks her own school record in the Indoor Mile at the NCAA Championship, finishing seventh with a time of 4:39.58, earning All-America honors in the process. She goes on to earn the All-America distinction two more times—in 2009 and in 2010.
  • May 20, 2009—She is named Big West Conference Women’s Track Athlete of the Year.
  • June 2010—Martinez graduates from UC Riverside with a degree in sociology and law and society being the first of her family to attend college.

SOURCE: UCR Athletics Department

Stay connected with Martinez and her quest for Olympic gold through the official Olympics site, Martinez’s personal website, her Twitter (@bmartrun and @BigBearTC) and her Instagram (@bmartrun).

Also, keep in touch with us through Facebook, Twitter (@UCRiverside and @UCR_Athletics), Instagram and UCR Today as we cheer on this Highlander! Go Brenda!

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