Olympic hopeful Lindsey Butterworth adds SFU staff achievement award to trophy case

April 30, 2021

It is not a stretch to imagine Canadian Olympic hopeful Lindsey Butterworth completing an 800-metre race and then rushing off to attend an academic advising appointment over zoom with an SFU student athlete.

Butterworth, a former NCAA champion middle-distance runner on the SFU track and field team, juggles the daily grind of training and competing with assisting student-athletes with their academic choices.

She wouldn’t have it any other way.

Butterworth is thriving in her role as NCAA Program Coordinator in Student Engagement and Retention, working with SFU’s athletic stars. She was recently honoured with a Staff Achievement Award. Butterworth is also thriving on the track as one of Canada’s top 800-metre runners focused on qualifying for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, now scheduled for July 2021.

The 27-year-old from North Vancouver is hoping to achieve the Olympic 800-metre qualifying standard of 1:59.50. She has until June 2021 to accomplish it. Only five Canadian women have ever broken two minutes in the 800. Butterworth is close with a personal best of 2:00.31.

Despite the global pandemic, Butterworth competed briefly in Europe this past summer where she clocked the fastest 800m time run last season by a Canadian. She is currently ranked No. 23 in the world.

It is not easy balancing the demands of training for the Olympics with a fulltime job. Butterworth makes it look easy. She leans heavily on the time management skills she learned as a student athlete, since joining the work force in 2017.

“I have always had supportive supervisors at SFU who have allowed me to alter my work schedule. Sometimes I train during my lunch break, start work earlier, or end later,” said Butterworth, who trains at SFU alongside the track team.

“Lindsey excels both as an academic advisor and an athlete,” wrote one nominator. “Her time management skills are beyond exceptional. She moves seamlessly between her SFU work world and her athletic world with an attitude of graciousness and professionalism.”

The busy time in academic advising is June, July and August which just happens to coincide with racing season. Working remotely this past summer, Butterworth headed to Europe to race. Adjusting her work schedule with the time difference often meant taking care of business before and after races. It wasn’t uncommon for her to check her phone and help student-athletes before races. She once conducted a student-athlete academic orientation via a Zoom call from a hotel room in Belgium.

“I recall having a zoom meeting at 3 a.m. and there were some occasions where I would finish a run and immediately jumped on my phone to respond to emails but it was fine,” said Butterworth, who majored in Health Sciences and who will be returning to the Faculty of Health Sciences this fall to do a Master of Public Health degree. “I can relate to student athletes and I really enjoy helping them.”

“It actually helps my running to be able to focus on my work responsibilities,” she said. “I’m a big believer in multiple goals in life, and multiple paths. I don’t think I could only be a professional runner; I would need more in my life.”

Now that working remotely is generally accepted, Butterworth can stay on the fast track to achieving all her goals.