HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Every athlete competing at the Rio Olympics has their own unique path to the top of the athletic world.
Mariam Kromah's journey goes from Liberia, Texas, New Mexico and Hattiesburg.
So, adjusting to new surroundings and challenges is the norm. As the former University of Mississippi star gets ready to compete in the 400 meter dash for Liberia Saturday, this should serve her well.
"At first it was rough because I couldn't speak English," Kromah said of moving to the states. "So it was really rough. The food. The people. I had to learn to get used to everything. Pretty much start everything all over again. So it wasn't easy. But I learned to survive."
Competing in the Olympics may not have even happened if it wasn't for a friend at Arlington Heights High School in Fort Worth, Texas.
His name is Ryan, a very good friend of mine," she said. "He introduced me to track. My freshman or my sophomore year in high school he introduced me to track. At first i was like nah. I don't want to do it because I don't want to be too skinny. But then he was like you look athletic and I feel like track is very very good for you."
After two years at New Mexico Junior College, Kromah continued her journey in Hattiesburg.
Southern Miss track and field coach Jon Stuart said he couldn't have predicted Olympics for Kromah.
"You know it's hard to predict an athlete becoming an Olympian," Stuart said. "All you can see is someone that's got the desire, the passion and the hard work and the heart to get there and Mariam has that."
Stuart added it remains to be seen how fast Kromah can go.
"I don't think she knows her own ability," he said. "She basically just says, hey coach I'd like to run this. I say okay, that's great. If you run a certain time then I'll contact your federation. We'll see if we can get you on the Olympian team or some type of international team. And Mariam just accomplishes the goals. She runs a time. She ran 53 seconds. And then she ran 52 seconds. I made a call and the rest is history.
The journey has been long for Kromah. It all leads up to the big moment Saturday. More history could be made.
"I don't know how to describe this," Kromah said. "Because it's still not real to me yet. So I don't know how to describe this but it's been a lot."