Watch: Maggie Barrie’s Olympic journey ends with marriage proposal

Japan 2020

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio State sprinter Maggie Barrie had a special surprise waiting for her at John Glenn International Airport when she returned home from the Olympics.

Barrie competed for her parents’ home country of Sierra Leone in Tokyo, 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. But with NBC4 cameras present, Polk placed a balloon arch and rose petals on the ground, and he proposed marriage to her right at her arrival gate.

She 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.

“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.”

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