Many athletes have gone to medical school before or after the Olympic Games. Very few, however, try to pursue the two simultaneously.
Mallory Abney (Cert.’12/M), a 400-meter hurdler, has kept up world-class training during his time in Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine. Abney, a member of the Class of 2017, will begin his fourth year of study later this summer — right around the time he hopes to be competing at the Olympic Games in Brazil.
But first Abney has got to get to the Olympic Team Trials. A few months ago, he would have automatically qualified as one of the top hurdlers in the country. But several athletes have since beat his qualifying time, pushing him down a notch and necessitating a faster finish before the end of June. He hopes to accomplish that this weekend in Maryland; otherwise, he’s got another chance later in the month.
While most of his competitors are training full time, Abney is tackling an acting internship in emergency medicine at VCU Health. “It’s been challenging,” he said. “It’s hard to get the rest you need. But it’s helped keep me focused and organized.”
“Mallory is tough,” said Leslie Young, his coach. “As hard as he works towards his medical degree, that’s how hard he works at his hurdling.”
On a typical day, Abney gets up around 4:45 a.m. and is out the door for an endurance run by 5:15. He spends the day on VCU’s MCV Campus, either in school or the hospital, then heads to Virginia State University for a track workout followed by a weightlifting session. He goes home to his (“very patient”) wife around 7 p.m., eats dinner, studies until almost midnight, and catches a few hours of sleep before starting it all over again.
It is a grueling schedule, but Abney says he appreciates the support he has gotten from medical faculty, staff and other students.