Big 12 Campus Correspondent
For most athletes, a chance to compete in the Olympics is one they would just be happy to seize, but for Kansas sophomore Diamond Dixon, that chance is merely the first step on her path to the prestigious Olympic podium.
"I can't just be satisfied with being there," the soon-to-be 20-year old explained. "Somebody who is just happy with being at the Olympics might not do as well, so if I make it to the finals and place in the top three, then I will be satisfied."
For Dixon, this determination to be the best started when she first stepped foot on KU's campus, while she was still only in high school.
"On my visit here, I walked through the hall of fame (at the Booth Family Hall of Athletics), and I thought to myself, I am going to be on that wall one day."
While the Houston, Texas native still has more to accomplish before she can make that dream come true, one person who is not surprised by her drive and determination is Kansas track and field coach, Stanley Redwine.
"We can't coach that inner drive that the athletes have to succeed," Redwine explained of his student-athlete. "When she (Dixon) steps on the line, she wants to accomplish the goal (of winning) and that is something you just cannot coach."
While the standout sophomore hopes to blaze a storied chapter of her own in KU track and field lore, she already boasts some lofty accomplishments. During her freshman campaign, Dixon was named an All-American on both the indoor and outdoor track and field teams by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Association.
During her sophomore indoor season, the 5-6 sprinter earned the exact same individual distinction as her team captured second place at the NCAA Championships.
"It was pretty amazing," the newly crowned national female track athlete of the year said. "I was very proud of everyone's effort because there is just a lot of great competition, so being able to do that my sophomore year is just crazy."
Dixon played a pivotal role in her team's indoor success last month in Idaho at the Championships, as she finished first with a time of 51.78 in the 400 meters and the NCAA title to go along with it.
"She did a phenomenal job in the 400 and went in with the purpose of winning," Redwine recalled. "I think nothing else would have been acceptable to her."
As to where her success comes from, the upstart sprinter points to a very specific thought she has each time gets set in the starting blocks.
"Before a race I am thinking, ‘you don't like to lose, so you better not lose," she reiterated. "I also think about how hard I have worked and how I do not want all of those workouts go to waste, because if I don't score, I will feel like I did all that for nothing."
While those thoughts run through Dixon's mind before the gun goes off, others around her are busy thinking about how they are going to beat the flash of Crimson and Blue. With all of Dixon's accolades comes a sizeable target on her back and some of her competitors be sure to let her know.
"At Nationals there was a girl who, after prelims, said to me, ‘I'm coming to get you,' she recalled. "So I said, ‘alright, we will see how this goes,' and she was the one who got second, so that just lets me know that people are really out to get me."
While Dixon gets accustomed to that newly placed bullseye on her back, she also has some definite goals for herself as the outdoor season gets into full swing.
"I want to get a lot stronger because I am trying to run 49-open in the 400," she explained. "If I do not get 49 (seconds), I at least want to hit 50.0 twice, so I can go to Olympic trials."
"I think if she continues to do the things that she is on track to do, then it is definitely possible," Redwine said of his sprinter's 49 mark. "I can't name the date (when it will happen), but I think it is possible because she has the tools to get it done."
What else can Dixon get done this year? Her coach thinks the Olympics are attainable, but knows his prized sprinter will have to be at the top of her game to get a chance to represent the red, white and blue in London.
"I believe that she can make the Olympic team because her strong desire to win is going to help her," Redwine explained. "To make the U.S. team in the 400, you have to do well at the trials and be in the top three. There is some real stiff competition for that, so you have to be really good on that day."
Dixon is confident she will be ready come the Trials in late June, because, after all, that ‘one day' is something she has been working toward for some time now.
"After seeing the last Olympics (2008 in Beijing), I thought, ‘okay, I can do that,' she recalled. "Making the Olympics would be such an honor and I want to be able to do that really, really bad."
If Dixon's past is any indication of her future, then KU track and field fans should be on the look-out for her in London. After all, the sophomore has grown accustomed to that bullseye on her back and knows all too well the hard work and dedication she has put in along the way. It's those thoughts that will be in the back of her mind as she toes the line at Nationals this spring, using it as motivation to send her across the Atlantic this summer.