In Tokyo, Barrie competed for her parents’ home country of Sierra Leone, where she finished with a season-best time of 11.45 seconds in the 100-meter dash during the preliminary and qualifying rounds.
But then she boarded the long flight back to Columbus, where she knew her boyfriend, Zach Polk, would be waiting for her. NewsNation affiliate WCMH was present when Polk placed a balloon arch and rose petals on the ground and proposed marriage to her right at her arrival gate.
Barrie said yes.
“I was really tired after my flight — and I had to layover in Chicago — so I was already kind of in a bad mood,” Barrie said before laughing. “When I walked in and I, like, saw Zach and I was, like, what is he doing?”
The two ran track together at Xavier University in Cincinnati before she transferred to Ohio State.
Throughout the crisis, Ukraine’s leaders have sought to project calm — repeatedly playing down the threat of an invasion.
“I’ve been planning for a while,” Polk said. “It’s changed a lot, too, because I was actually supposed to be in Tokyo, and I was planning to do it there. When the COVID regulations hit, and I wasn’t allowed to go, I kind of had to think fast on my feet.”