"Off The Record"
A Blog by Jill M. Geer
Nice guys finish first
Sunday, June 27, 2010
If you don't love David Oliver, you're just not capable of love.
Or maybe you're just not into a guy who went to college to actually get an education, who has a smile that could light up New York in the middle of a blackout, who flashes that smile seemingly 24-7, and who has persevered through the depths of post-collegiate athlete poverty to be the world's best in his specialty.
He's got a build that would inspire jealousy in just about any NFL tight end, and a face that could put him on the cover of a magazine. But did I mention he is ridiculously nice? After running a personal-best and world-leading time in the men's 110m hurdles Sunday afternoon at Drake Stadium, the first people he thanked were his nephew "and my grandpa and grandma."
David took up track for a perfectly wonderful reason: to get an education. Period. He attended prestigious Howard University, where his track and field genetics and hard work made him a two-time All-American. His mom was a 400m hurdler in her day, running at the University of Colorado.
His story about how he got into the sport speaks for itself.
My mom has a background in track, the 400 hurdles. She went to the University of Colorado and had a couple records up there. I was the one catching the bus back home by myself in the spring because all my friends were on the track team. So I joined track. I did the long and triple jump and was pretty sorry. I was always missing the board so my friends called me DJ Scratch. I needed to find a different event. I did a shuttle hurdle relay and was three-stepping between hurdles, so that was my event. I always wanted to go to Howard University, so I sent the coach three or four letters asking for a scholarship. The coach said he'd come out for our regional track meet and he said if I like what I see I'll offer you a full scholarship. So I told my mom, "I'm going to Howard!"
I just wanted to go to school for free to take the burden off my mom, a single mom raising three kids and working three jobs. I wanted a degree from an outstanding university and to get a good job. I didn't have any aspirations for professional track & field because I didn't know it existed. But things work themselves off in the long run.
Oliver's long run has kept him in the sport for six years and counting since he graduated from Howard in 2004 with a marketing degree. He's gone from a guy who couldn't afford to turn on his AC, while living in Florida, to a guy who commands appearance fees, wins medals, and wins fans everywhere he goes.
But he's always been a guy who will give you a big smile and an even bigger hug every time he sees you. He's just a nice guy.
And finishing first is becoming a habit.
To see David Oliver's winning run at the 2010 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, visit http://www.usatf.org/events/2010/USAOutdoorTFChampionships/video.asp then select the men's 110m hurdles.
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