Michael Cappeler/Getty Images Emily Enfield
Professional sprinter Emily Enfield tells her account of being stalked for three years and how the stress of dealing with harassment eventually caused her to not qualify for the Olympics in Tokyo this summer.
In an extensive ESPN profile, the 31-year-old – who appeared at the 2016 Summer Olympics – explained that she was first contacted by her alleged stalker, a man named Craig Donnelly who claims to be a US track and field coach. America, in April 2018.
Donnelly suffered a brain injury two years ago, in April 2016, following having a seizure while jogging, according to ESPN. He had to undergo emergency brain surgery, and part of the left side of his brain was removed, as was part of his skull. Donnelly’s friends and family told ESPN that he was noticeably distinct following the incident.
Enfield said Donnelly first reached out via Facebook Messenger claiming he wanted to advise her about a recent injury. He kept spamming her for about a month, she told ESPN, telling him to quit calling her and she blocked him.
Donnelly allegedly attempted to send packages to her home in Portland, Oregon, and says she received strange messages about a wedding. These incidents led to an application for protection in Multnomah County Court.
She was granted a temporary stalking protection order, followed by a enduring stalking protection order two months later, according to ESPN.
Lintao Zhang/Getty Images Emily Enfield
After that, Infeld hasn’t heard from Donnelly for about a year and a half, and is preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games that will end up being postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In February 2020, she was in a race in Boston, a race that would be an indication of her aptitude to grip the Olympic trials scheduled for June (the trials have also been rescheduled due to the pandemic), ESPN reported.
While Enfield was in Boston, she said she heard Donnelly was back posting on social media.
“My heart was pounding because it was something I honestly thought was done,” she told ESPN. “When I received this torrent of letters, that’s what scared me.”
Donnelly pushed out of her mind to focus on her 5,000-meter sprint, and ended up having a personal best with 14 minutes 51.91 seconds — she would have competent for the Olympics at the time, according to ESPN.
In June 2020, Donnelly posted on LinkedIn that he was coming to Portland to kill Enfield, according to ESPN. The outlet reported that he had already rented a room several miles from the Enfield home. Other tenants at his residence have reportedly complained about him, and he has been evicted. Then he rented a room closer to Enfield’s house, according to ESPN.
Enfield and her fiancé Max Randolph fled to Atlanta, Georgia, where she said she was flustered and couldn’t focus on rehearsals.
“I’ve worked firm to become a pleasing runner, but in a unique moment, I felt like it was all taken away from me,” Enfield told ESPN. “My life is no longer under my control. I unkind, I was running away from my house and I kept thinking, ‘Is this even real?’ Is this really happening to me? “
While Portland police spoke with Donnelly – who allegedly told them he wanted to “scare” Enfield – they were unable to arrest him because he had not read his Miranda rights.
“The system is so corrupt, and that makes me so angry,” Enfield said of her frustration at the delay in Donnelly’s arrest. “They interviewed him, called us and made us feel distinct… They were like, ‘It’s pleasing that you left, this guy means to hurt you.’” “
In the end, Enfield had to return to Oregon for her races, but she stayed in an Airbnb away from her home, still fearing for her safety.
“It’s so frustrating when you have these people who are supposed to aid protect you, serve you, take concern of you,” she told ESPN. “You feel like you’re being left behind.”
In June 2021, Infeld finally competed in Olympic Trials, but ended up in eighth place and did not qualify.
“[It was] She told ESPN that it might be one of my worst races. “It’s never a fun place to have one of your worst races in trials. … I feel a lot fitter than that race show.”
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ESPN reported that Multnomah County District Attorneys charged Donnelly with six counts of misdemeanour for breaching a stalking order in July 2020. A Portland Police Office spokesperson told ESPN that Donnelly left Oregon following being questioned by police, making it firm Find him to arrest.
Donnelly was finally arrested on June 4, 2021 in Tennessee.
“He’s already called us,” the Brentwood Police Department assistant said. President Richard Hickey told ESPN. “He called us because he felt he was the victim of a scam where someone was trying to steal his money.”
Brentwood police discovered his arrest warrant in Oregon, and he was arrested.
On June 7, the US Attorney’s office in Portland charged Donnelly with two crimes: cyberstalking and interstate violation of a protective order, both of which carry a greatest sentence of five years in prison, according to ESPN. The office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Donnelly is reportedly awaiting the transfer of US Marshall to Portland to confront his charges.
Henry Ambrose, Donnelly’s attorney in Tennessee, and his court-appointed attorney William Shockley did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
“Dealing with this has been firm, but I am grateful for the tremendous amount of support especially from my fiancé, family and friends. My story is so popular. My heart goes out to anyone who is dealing with something similar,” Infeld wrote on Instagram following posting the ESPN article.
Despite the years-lengthy ordeal, Infeld told the outlet she hoped he would get “aid for his mental health” following his prison sentence, adding, “I’ve felt it many times.”
If you or someone you know needs mental health aid, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to have a certified crisis counselor contacted.