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Octavius Terry

Last year, 400 hurdler Octavius Terry got a little too complacent. He won the NCAA title the year before, so he figured it would come his way automatically. He had also taken 2nd at the USA Championships the year before, so he figured making the team for the World Championships would be a breeze.

Wrong on both counts. "It started out rocky," the Georgia Tech senior says of 1995. "I got a little too comfortable. My first race I lost. Then I lost conference and then I lost NCs." Not until the USA Championships did he start to regain his focus. It almost wasn't enough. He took 3rd with only 0.02 to spare, outleaning Bryan Bronson at the finish.

Terry, born and raised in Atlanta, promises he will show his hometown what he can do this summer. "I'm really hungry this time," he says. "I have an outdoor season with my school. I'll have a chance to win the national title again, and this is my last chance to break the school record by Derrick Adkins. I think that going into the Olympic Trials, I'll make the team."

If Terry does become an Olympian, he has the ridicule of his high school buddies to thank. When he started running as a sophomore, he fancied himself a stud sprinter. "I had all these expectations of what I would do," he explains. And he made the mistake of sharing them. Then, in his first race, a 4 x 100 relay, "I got blown out, just to make a long story short. I got picked on in school. I thought I was going to quit."

Instead, Terry figured a new career focus might be in order. "I changed to the hurdles because everybody was scared of the hurdles. I had always been wanting to face a challenge, so I said, 'If I do them, I'm going to be the best that there is.' My love for the 110m hurdles was more than for the 400 hurdles, because I was always scared of the 400H. But I would always win the 400H and get like 4th in the 110s."

Georgia Tech's Grover Hinsdale, in recruiting Terry, noticed the same pattern. Recounts Terry, "He told me that I would run the 400H and I thought, 'Oh goodness.' It took for me to go to Tech to get the love for the 400H that I had for the 110s. I realized that it could be a consistent event. Before, I didn't have steps. I was just running. Now, there is nothing else I'd rather do but the 400H."

Terry has color-coded the race to break it into zones. "The first zone, which includes the first six hurdles, is the blue zone because it's easy. The seventh hurdle is my red zone, because it's the most difficult. The last three hurdles are my yellow zone because they aren't easy, but they aren't as difficult as the red zone." What makes that seventh hurdle red is that's where Terry shifts from a 13-stride pattern to 14, changing his lead leg.

The formula must work. In his first three seasons with the Yellow Jackets, Terry managed a trifecta in the NCAA final, finishing 3rd, 1st and 2nd. He also played a part in two 4 x 400 wins, including the '92 victory in 2:59.95, the second time a college team had broken the 3-minute barrier.

Terry trained with World Champion Adkins through the winter, but once the outdoor season starts, he will do his workouts with the team (he has no remaining indoor eligibility). Of his chances of becoming the success that Adkins is, he says, "Everything has been falling into place and I've been coming along a lot faster than I expected. Everything is looking forward to making the team. But the pressures I put on myself are real hard."

He adds that he's in the sport for the long run: "I'm always focused. I think I'm a hard worker. That pays off a lot. If I don't get to contented like I did last year and there's still something that I want out of the sport, I'm up for another 10-15 years."

Career Stats


Born November 7, 1972 in Atlanta, Ga

6-2/1.88m	171/77kg

Creekside HS (Atlanta) '91

Georgia Tech '96



PR (outdoor):

400--45.6 relay '92

110H--14.08 '92

400H--48.95 '95



PRs (indoor):

400--46.71(A) '95 (low-altitude: 46.74 '95)

600--1:19.37 '94

55H--7.52 '95



Major Meets (400H unless noted):

1992	3)NCAA

1992	5s)Olympic Trials

1994	1)NCAA

1994	2)USA

1995	3h)USA Indoor 400

1995	5)NCAA Indoor 400

1995	2)NCAA

1995	3)USA

1995	6s)World Championships



Major Relays:

1992	3)NCAA Indoor 4 x 400 [1]

1992	1)NCAA 4 x 400 [1]

1994	3)NCAA Indoor 4 x 400 [1]

1994	1)NCAA 4 x 400 [1]

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