[REAL VERSION] London 2012

REAL VERSION

Full coverage on NBC through August 12

Cal Grad Alysia Montano Beats Everyone in 800m Round 1

Alysia Montano clearly has a shot at medal

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Alysia Montano always wears a flower in her hair. It is her signature.

    The Bay Area has a new Olympian to watch this week. UC Berkeley graduate Alysia Montano tore up the track Wednesday coming in first in her heat in the 800-meter race.

    Montano not only won her heat, she came with the fastest time of the round with a 2:00:47 finish.

    She easily advanced to the semi-finals on Thursday. 

    Montano got some extra love from the NBC track analysts who gave a shout out to her grandmother, Doris May Simpson , who turned 100 years old Wednesday.

    Cal Grad Alysia Montano Will Run Olympic 800m

    [BAY] Cal Grad Alysia Montano Will Run Olympic 800m
    Cal grad will run the 800-meter at the London Games. (Published Friday, Jul 20, 2012)

    In the post-race interview, Montano was quick to wish her grandma a "Happy Birthday" as well.

    The road to the London Olympic Games for the UC Berkeley graduate took a medical detour in 2008. She was considered a shoe-in for the Bejing games before a broken foot nearly broke her Olympic dreams.

    But at that level, athletes can't give up. And Montano didn't.

    "I had a couple of doctors telling me I wasn't going to run again at the elite level, but I just left them behind and found other ones," Montano said.

    The 26-year-old healed from her injury, and soon become the fastest woman in the 800-meter run in 2010.

    In 2011, she won several key races, and is currently ranked 4th in the world.

    Her coach, Tony Sandoval, who is also Cal's director of Track and Field, has worked with her for the past eight years and thinks this might be her year.

    "She has had a perfect year of training," Sandoval said.

    Montano's team also includes her husband of a little more than a year, Louis Montano. The two met in junior high in Santa Clarita and kept in touch as friends through college. A couple of years ago, that friendship turned into a romance. They now live in Canyon Country in Southern California.

    "This sport at the end of the day can be very lonely," Alysia Montano said. "You become introverted in what you are doing, that the balance on the other side is very important. Louis really brings that balance for me."

    While she finds balance from her husband, Alysia Montano finds strength and beauty in what has now become a staple in her hair. A flower. "It was my symbol of strength in femininity and not losing that part of me," Montano said.

    To see uncut video of Alysia Montano talk about how she began running at an early age, click here: