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Gardner competes in the Womens 100 Meter during day one of the 2015 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Her very own Sasha Fierce! English Gardner is planning for her first Olympics this summer in Rio de Janeiro, and when she’s there, she’ll let her alter ego take the wheel.

“She’s nuts … a totally different version of me,” Gardner tells Us Weekly. “She’s like The Hulk, she crashes and smashes everything that’s in front of her and I can’t control her, ever. Once the uniform comes on and we’re in the heat of the moment, it’s a wrap; you probably won’t get English back for a little while. You’ll see Baby Beast in Rio, for sure.”

The 100-meter dash sprinter is coming back big for Rio, having just missed qualifying for London.

“This is my redemption. So when I was 19, I tried out for 2012. I was the only college student to make the final,” the 24-year-old explains. “I really, really wanted that moment. Like when you really fix your eyes on something from birth. Literally, this is something that I’ve always wanted all my life. I ended up missing the spot by one spot.”

“I remember the feeling of sitting in the car talking to my dad and the tears just rolled down my eyes, and I was like, I have to wait four more years to be able to even get a chance or an opportunity to even try again — not even guaranteed to make it, but to try again,” she says. “So for me, this Olympics is redemption because I feel like I’m older, I’m stronger, I’ve been there and done it now, I’ve made two world championship teams and got a silver medal in both and so, I think I’m OK. But things happen. Life has its way of making choices for us.”

But the choice for Gardner to get into track was all because of her parents.

“I started track and field because I was getting in trouble for doing something and my dad and mom couldn’t catch me and I was running around the house and they were like, you know what? We’re going to put this girl on a track and see what she can do,” she explains.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist, sprinter Maurice Greene, has long inspired Gardner, helping her maintain her incredible dedication to the sport.

“I remember seeing Maurice Greene at a track meet, and he pulled out a fire extinguisher and he sprayed his shoes with the fire extinguisher after his race. And I was like, I want to do that, I want to be better than that. I want to be able to do crazy stuff like that and show people I have a crazy wicked personality,” she says. “My dad was just telling me, ‘OK, well, this is what you want to do – you have to do these steps’. So at 9 years old I was not swimming in pools before track meets, not going out and going to sleepovers and stuff because I had track meets.”

To learn more about all the Olympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. The Olympics begin on August 5 and will be streamed live on NBCOlympics.com and NBC Sports Live Extra.

April 22, 2016
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