Tokyo Olympics

Father Recovering From Surgery as UCLA Track Star Shae Anderson Chases Her Olympic Dreams

Mark Anderson, a two-time NCAA all-America decathlete and the 1980 national champion, was hospitalized with severe stomach pain during what should have been a celebratory time at the track and field trials.

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Shae Anderson began looking forward to the Olympics in Tokyo after qualifying last month at the U.S. track and field trials, but her thoughts remained with her father in an Oregon hospital.

The UCLA track and field star’s father Mark suffered severe intestinal problems during the trials in Eugene, Oregon. He was expected to remain hospitalized at least through Wednesday after surgery on a perforated colon.

“He’s been in pain for about the past week and two days — just sitting in a hospital bed,” Anderson said. 

Mark Anderson, 62, is two-time NCAA all-America decathlete and the 1980 national champion in the grueling event. He has played a crucial role in his daughter’s development on the track, leading to what should have been a week to celebrate.

During the trials in Oregon, Anderson reached the final of the 400-meter race and finished eighth with a personal best time of 50.84 seconds. Not long after the event, she was told she would be part of the relay pool in Tokyo. 

Two days later, her father’s stomach pain began at their hotel. Anderson told the LA Times her father could not get out of bed due to the severe abdominal pain. 

It was a difficult decision, but Shae Anderson was unable to visit her father in the hospital due to coronavirus restrictions, so she returned home after the trials while he remained hospitalized in Oregon. 

“I just felt like I needed to get home so I could get back into training,” Anderson said.

She has been training in Norco and at UCLA's Drake Stadium.

“I’m very impressed with her strength through all of this,” said UCLA assistant track and field Coach John Frazier. “Shae just follows along with so many other great Bruins because we have a great legacy of Olympians.”

Anderson said going to Tokyo without her father will be difficult, but that she’s come too far to give it anything but her best. 

“I’m very excited to be able to represent the United States at the Olympic Games,” Anderson said.

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