Dodson ready to chase 2012 Olympic dreams in New York
ROME – Patience. Blessed.
The two words have become familiar monikers when Nick Dodson makes a comment on his Facebook page.
For the past four years, patience kept him going despite setbacks in his determined quest to be a national champion hurdler. Dodson never gave up chasing his goal, putting the disappointments quickly behind him and remaining patient until he finally closed out his storied career at Shorter University by winning a national championship in the 400-meter hurdles at the NAIA Outdoor Championship in May.
Even better, Dodson’s patience – he had three straight national runner-up finishes in the event heading into his final year at Shorter – wound up helping the Hawks win the NAIA Outdoor Track national team title, a feat that came on the heels of the squad claiming the NAIA Indoor National crown earlier this year.
Throughout it all, the native of Thomasville knew all too well that the patience he developed was one of the many things God has blessed him with – family, friends, teammates, coaches and the gift of being able to run very, very fast.
On Saturday, Dodson will use his patience and blessings again when he begins another race toward an even bigger goal: running in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
“I’ve been using those words as my motto for a long time now,” said Dodson, who after graduating in May from Shorter, where he was a 10-time NAIA All-American, will compete as a professional for the first time on Saturday in the USATF National Club Track and Field Championships on Randall’s Island in New York City.
“I have nothing to lose. I went out on top and got my degree. I’ve accomplished things few can do,” said Dodson. “I just hope I can pull off a double national championship and start training even harder to make the U.S. Olympic team next year.”
Although some may think that there’s little chance that an athlete from a small college in Rome, Ga., can do it, Dodson’s desire to run on the world stage is well within reach.
Thanks to his personal best 50.84 time he posted in winning the NAIA 400-meter hurdle championship, Dodson, who’s listed as a runner Team USA Georgia, is the top-seeded entry in the field at the USATF National Club meet.
Even more remarkable is the fact that as Dodson neared the finish line at the NAIA championship meet with the victory in hand, he started celebrating in the final meters, a move that prevented him from turning in an even faster time. Still, the time he posted made him the USATF’s 28th-ranked 400 hurdler.
“I shut down early because all I could think was ‘Oh my God, I’m about to win,’” Dodson said.
“He did pull up at the end in the final meters, but I completely understand it. It was an emotional release for him,” said Shorter head track coach Scott Byrd, who has agreed to help train Dodson over the next year.
Dodson and Byrd already know what needs to be done for Dodson to become a contender to join the 2012 U.S. Olympic team.
According to Byrd, a 49.5 circuit is A-standard time that will lead to automatic berth for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials held June 22 through July 1 in Eugene, Ore. Once those runners who have met or bettered that mark are locked into a shot at running, those who run a B-standard time of 49.8 will be selected to fill out the field.
Says Byrd: “If Nick can run a 49.8 he’ll be in the field.”
“I know I can run that time,” Dodson said.
That time is well within reach. At the USATF Outdoor National Championships held two weeks ago in Eugene, Ore., an event for which Dodson missed qualifying by one-hundredth of a second, Dodson would have finished seventh if he had posted the time he ran at the NAIA national meet.
That race in Eugene was won by Jeshua Anderson, who covered the distance in 47.93 seconds, just edging out a pair of world-class runners in Bershawn Jackson and Angelo Taylor.
Those performances were still way off the world record that is held by Kevin Young, who ran a blistering 46.78 at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Although Dodson is less than a second from going below the 50-second mark, he and Byrd are fully aware that a much different and harder training regimen is needed.
“Nick’s going to have to come in this fall in the best shape he’s ever been in,” said Byrd. “His conditioning has to be stronger than it’s ever been.”
“It will be a little different than what I did at Shorter. I know it’ll be a little more intense,” Dodson said. “Everything is faster now and everyone I run against has either won a national championship or come close to it.”
“The training will be different than it was when he was in school,” Byrd said. “Plus you have to worry about other distractions like who will pay the fees to enter the meets. If you want to become a pro in track and field you’ve got to be the best to gain any amount of financial support.”
“I’m trying to secure endorsements to get the money I need to run,” Dodson said, “and the better I run, the better chance I’ll have to do that.”
That could happen this weekend in New York and determine what Dodson’s future schedule will be.
Dodson does know that the schedule will include running indoors during the winter, but doing so with a single purpose.
“It will be nothing but training for me to build up my endurance,” Dodson said, adding that he knows he has been blessed by being able to train with the same coach who recruited him as one of the key foundations to the five-year-old Shorter track program.
“I was formed and I was trusted by the coaches and the training they gave me,” said Dodson. “Pure talent won’t win it.”
“I told Nick that if he never runs track any more that 99.9 percent of people on this earth haven’t done what he did,” Byrd said. “His fortitude helped carry the team and the guys that beat him the first three years don’t have a team championship ring like Nick has.
“He’s proven he has the ability to overcome obstacles. He has that unique gift – that willpower and mental toughness can overcome adversity.”