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Meet the NC women who represented TEAM USA at the Tokyo Olympics

To celebrate Women’s History Month, every Wednesday we are highlighting women who are crushing it in the community that you want to put a spotlight on.
Credit: AP
Quanera Hayes competes during second heat of the women's 400-meter run at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials Friday, June 18, 2021, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Every Olympian has a place where it all began and a story to inspire others.

"They say once an Olympian always an Olympian," Quanera Hayes said.

For U.S. Track and Field Sprinter Quanera Hayes' home is in Hope Mills, North Carolina. She also went to Livingstone college and is now the only alumna to reach the 400-meter heat final.

"There were a lot of days where I cried and I wanted to give up and I just didn't think I could do it but when I got to Tokyo to still be in that stadium it was like one of my dreams have come true," Hayes said.

Another local Track and Field athlete competing at the Tokyo Games for the first time is Charlotte's, Gabbi Cunningham.

"I feel like it raised the bar raised the threshold for me," Cunningham said.

Cunningham graduated from Mallard Creek High School and went to NC State. At the Olympics, she also made it to the 100m hurdle finals and is now looking to take home hardware at the Indoor World Championships in Serbia.

"Once being the younger girl shooting for those goals for it to come around and be something that actually happened was amazing to me," Cunningham said.

RELATED: Livingstone College graduate secures a spot in the women's 400m finals

Evy Leibfarth from Bryson city also made her debut at the Olympics with a splash competing in the kayak and canoe slalom.

"Going to the Olympics has been a dream of mine since I was like 5 or 6 like it had been a lifelong dream of mine," Leibfarth said.

Post Olympics the Davidson College student is still turning dreams into reality.

"The next competition is at the end of April actually in Charlotte it is my Junior team trials and then I will have one more team trials and then head off to Europe for the season."

Question: What does Women Crushing it Wednesday mean to you?

Gabbi Cunningham: Women Crushing it Wednesday means to me not putting limitations on yourself.

 Evy Leibfarth: "There are girls just going out at their sport and just giving it their all and being super badass at it.

Quanera Hayes: Stay strong keep going you've made it this far, there's nothing stopping you now and nothing will ever stop you because we are superwomen.

We want to hear more stories of women inspiring others! Text 704-329-3600 to let us know who your #WCW is and why.

RELATED: Track Olympian, Quanera Hayes, to be honored at Livingstone College's Forty under 40

Contact Ruby Durham at rdurham@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. 

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