Erica Bougard didn’t make the cut for the 2016 USA Track and Field team. The failure, she said, “set off a fire in me.” This year, on her birthday, Bougard will be boarding a plane headed for the Tokyo Olympics.

Bougard will compete in the heptathlon, which consists of 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200-meter dash, long jump, javelin and 800-meter run, on Aug. 4-5. 

“It’s still sinking in. It’s crazy – a small town girl going to the Olympics,” she told southreporter.com. 

In addition to her long list of awards from competitions including the junior Olympics, the NCAA Outdoor Championship, and the USATF Outdoor Championship, Bougard is also a champion for LGBTQ rights. 

At the 2019 World Championship at Qatar, Bougard wore shoes with a rainbow flap across the left shoe. She told the Associated Press she wasn’t making a political statement, and that she has worn the same decorated shoe in other competitions.

“I feel like we have a voice, us as athletes, because more people look at us to perform,” the American told the Associated Press. “It’s important because I feel like people hate people for loving who they love. Some people don’t believe in it, which is totally fine. I wanted to show my side and put the symbol on my shoe.”