Temple student eyes Olympic medal in women's 800

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Ajee' Wilson is running in the women's 800 meters at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

WARNING TO those walking or jogging or looking for Pokemon characters along the Wissahickon Trail or anywhere along Kelly Drive. You might come across an Olympian and not even know it.

Ajee' Wilson has been a Temple student since 2013, when she decided to turn pro and move to Philadelphia to be able to train more conveniently with coach Derek Thompson. She lives near the intersection of Washington Lane and Stenton Avenue.

"Some people tell me it's Mount Airy, others say it's West Oak Lane," she said, laughing. "I don't know."

Depending on where you are standing, you could be in East Mount Airy, with Germantown and West Oak Lane mere steps away.

But what is without mystery is Wilson's next road trip. She's headed to Rio de Janeiro and will run in the women's 800 meters after qualifying with a second-place finish at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., on July 4.

"I'm just kind of back to training," said Wilson, whose first name is pronounced Ah-Zhay. "I'm looking forward to competing."

But there's some fun to be had before her event begins on Aug. 17. Wilson will leave for Brazil on Aug. 9 and will be a tourist and a general Olympic fan until it's time to lace up her sneaks in earnest.

When she gets to Rio, she'll also meet with some of her sponsors, including Kellogg's. The cereal company featured Wilson and four other first-time Olympians on boxes of Frosted Flakes.

"I'm still trying to (figure out the logistics)," said Wilson, who will have her mother (Tonya Anderson) and father (Zachary Wilson) among her traveling party. "I'll try to get some tickets to other events."

Wilson is from Neptune, N.J., and said soccer player Mia Hamm was her favorite Olympian from her youth. Asked whether she was familiar with Carli Lloyd - the current face of women's soccer - she said, "Oh, yeah, Jersey!" Lloyd, of course, is a Delran native.

Wilson, 22, is a kinesiology major on track to graduate from Temple in the fall, and has a career as a physical therapist in her sights. Short-term, however, is making a run at a little history.

No American woman has won an Olympic gold medal in the 800 since Madeline Manning in 1968. The last to win any sort of medal was Kim Gallagher, who grabbed a silver in 1984.

Wilson won silver in the 800 at the 2016 world indoor championships in Portland, Ore., and survived a near-disaster at last month's qualifying when Brenda Martinez and Alysia Montano tangled up right behind Wilson with about 150 meters to go. Wilson skipped past the catastrophe and finished second to Kate Grace.

"That happens in track, especially in my event," she said. "There's always some type of drama."

Speaking of drama, the next positive report this week regarding the logistics and preparedness of Rio will be the first.

Wilson said she will take the necessary precautions against the Zika virus, but really is more focused on competing in her Olympics debut.

"I'm taking baby steps," said Wilson, a three-time U.S. indoor champion in the 800 and once outdoors. "My first goal is (to get past qualifying). Then, I'll try to medal."

Sure would make her easier to spot on the Wissahickon Trail, even if she is just whizzing by.


barkowe@phillynews.com

@EdBarkowitz