June 30, 2008
EUGENE, Ore. – A little more than two months ago, the prospects for making the United State Olympic Team were bleak for Florida State senior Walter Dix. However, in a month he’ll be trading in his Garnet & Gold fin or the Red, White and Blue as he punched his ticket for the
2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.
On April 12 during the 100m of the Seminole Invitational Dix (Coral Springs, Fla.) pulled his hamstring, but on Sunday (June 29) he ran tthe fastest time of his career, a wind-aided 4.1 mps 9.80, to take second in the 100m and earn a spot on the US Olympic Team. Tyson Gay won the event with a time of 9.76.
“It’s so exciting for Walt and the program,” FSU head coach Bob Braman said. “We got a feeling he had the potential to do something special at the NCAA meet when he ran a 10.57 that converted to 10.02 because it was into a negative 6.5 wind.
“This really validates his decision to not go pro last year after having a great season or skip the NCAAs this year after he got injured. We’re so happy for Walt because he did it the right way. It sends such a great message that the money is going to be there, but you can’t go back to college to have fun and win championships. He used his last year to prepare for the big stage and now he’s ready.”
Dix is the first Florida State male athlete to make the US Olympic Track and Field team since two-time Olympian Arthur Blake went to the
1992 Olympics in Barcelona. The last Seminole, male or female, to wear the Red, While and Blue was Kim Batten in the 2000 Olympics after she won the silver medal in 1996.
Even though he was only fourth in the 100m during the NCAA Championships, Dix showed flashes of his 2007 brilliance during the prelims. On Saturday he opened the competition by running a time of 9.96, the fastest time during the prelims. Only Carl Lewis has run a faster prelim time than Dix.
The eight-time NCAA Champion moved on to the semifinals by running a time of 10.02 during the quarterfinals. He finished second to Gay, taking second in his semifinal heat with a time of 9.93, which tied his previous best.
In Jamaica this weekend, a pair of former Seminoles made their way to the Olympics tas well. Dorian Scott won the shot put with a throw of 20.13m/66-00.5. Also qualifying was Ricardo Chambers as he sprinted to a 45.24 to take second in the 400m dash.
So far, Florida State has six athletes on their way to Beijing, its highest total since eight qualified for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Freshmen Ngoni Makusa (long jump – Zimbabwe) and Gonzalo Barroilhet (decathlon – Chile) are already on their way as is former FSU sprinter Brian Dzingai in the 200m.
Dix is one of just four Seminoles in action during the first weekend of the US Trials. Joe Allen took seventh place in the long jump with a top leap of 7.79m/25-06.75. Former National Champion and Rhodes Scholar Garrett Johnson advanced to the semifinals of the shot put and Alyce Williams competed in the triple jump.
He will be back in action later this week as he tries to make the team in the 200m dash starting Friday. Also competing in that event will be sophomore teammate Charles Clark (Virginia Beach, Va.). Former Seminole Lacy Janson is next up in the women’s pole vault on Thursday while Rafeeq Curry takes on in the triple jump on Friday. FSU also has competitors coming up in the British and Canadian trials.