Aug. 16, 2008
BEIJING, China –
Never doubt Walter Dix.
Questioned countless times for not turning professional after his phenomenal junior year or after he injured his hamstring in the spring, the Florida State sprinter proved his merit against the best runners in the world on Saturday (August 16). Using his world-class closing speed, Dix passed the majority of the field in the final 40 meters of the finals of the 100m at the Summer Olympics to bring home the bronze medal with a personal-best time of 9.91.
“We’re just so unbelievable happy for Walt,” FSU head coach Bob Braman said. “He’s the last of a breed of collegiate athletes that have done it the right way and this is his reward. He didn’t get off to the greatest of starts, but as the whole world now knows, very few people can close a race like Walt.”
The seventh Seminole to win an Olympic medal, he is the first Florida State track and field athlete to win an Olympic medal since Kim Batten won the silver in the 400m hurdles at the 1996 Games in Atlanta. He keeps FSU’s streak alive of at least one medal since the 1992 when Michelle Finn received a gold as part of the United State’s 4x100m relay. After Batten, Doug Mientkiewicz was a member of the 2000 gold medal Team USA baseball squad and Stephen Parry took the bronze in the 200m butterfly at the 2004 games in Athens.
Dix earned his way into the finals by posting a then season-best time of 9.95 in the semifinals. With the 200m starting on Monday and the 4x100m relay on the horizon, he has completed the first step towards being the only American male track and field athlete with a chance to win three Olympic medals.
Also making headway at the Olympics on Saturday was freshman long jumper Ngoni Makusha (Mandedza, Zimbabwe). He won his flight and was fifth overall with a top jump of 8.14m. The NCAA Outdoor Champion will take part in the finals on Monday at 8:10 a.m. (EST).
Former Seminole and British team member Andrew Lemoncello ran in the opening round of the 3000m steeplechase on Saturday. He posted a time of 8:36.06 to take 28th.
Only one Seminole will be in action on Sunday. Volunteer assistant coach Kevin Sullivan of Canada will take part in the second semifinal heat of the 1500m run at 10:05 a.m. (EST). His 3:36.05 in the prelims was tied for the seventh-fastest. The top five in each semifinal and the next two fastest runners will move on to the finals.
With 13 participants, the 2008 Games in Beijing has the largest contingency of Seminoles. The previous high was the 2000 Games which saw 10 athletes compete while the 1984 Games in Los Angeles had nine. FSU has had at least one Olympian in every Summer Olympics since 1972. Keeping the streak alive when the United States boycotted the 1980 Olympics in Moscow was diver Wendy Fuller as a member of the Canadian Olympic Team.