National Record Holder Antwon Hicks chats exclusively with Athletic Heat
Antwon Hicks is an American born, Nigerian track and field hurdler who competes in the 110-meter hurdles. He was the gold medallist in that event at the 2002 World Junior Championships in Jamaica – the first American to life that title.He was twice NCAA indoor champion in the 60-meter hurdles.
Hicks was a 15-time state high school champion and the 1999 American junior champion in the high jump. In addition to his NCAA indoor titles, he ran a school record 7.61 seconds for the 60 m hurdles.
He talks to Athletic Heat on how he ran the Nigerian national record, his goals for Nigerian youths after retirement and his hope at The Olympics….
Congrats on your race at the national trials and your new national record. How do you feel about it?
I feel great about it. My goal was to hit the standard but to also get a National Record is a plus to me.
Did you see it coming?
Oh yeah! I have always dreamed of it but it was not easy. It took work of day in day out and I had to be really focused, consistent and had to sacrifice to get to where I am but it has paid off.
So do you think you could go faster? Probably under 13s.
Yes I do! I have run 13.09s, so I know what it takes to run that fast. Hurdles is very technical, so I have to clean up my technic in order to be in medal contention for Rio.
You are 33 years old and still running this fast. What’s your motivation?
At my age, I draw inspiration from a lot of people. I look at athletes like Kim Collins who is 40 years old and still able to run fast and this shows me what the possibilities are for human being’s. When I see somebody else do it, I feel I can do it too and my All time favorite athlete, Gail Devers she was still running fast up until age 41 before she retired.
How long have you been running?
I have been running track since I was 8 year old, so probably about 25 years.
In 2014, you were at the national trials and you didn’t perform too well and you are back in 2016 and you have the title as well as the National Record. What did you work on to come back stronger?
To be honest! In 2014, I was actually kinda retired from track, so when I came into the national trials that year, I was off for close to one year without training. So when I heard about the trails I had only one month to train, so I did the best I could to get ready. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough because track and field takes a lot of hard work, dedication and training which I didn’t get a chance to do. So this year, I had time to train, to get my body to the level it needs to be at and this is the result.
So can you tell us about yourself?
I grew up in The States, I am from Hot Springs, Arkansas. I went to the University of Mississippi which is popularly known as Ole Miss. I have competed at the professional level since 2006 and currently, I am an assistant track and field coach at Neosho County Community College
Most people are eager to know your Nigerian root. Can you clear the air on that?
I don’t know the full knowledge but I know when I was approached by the federation, they had a research on those who had Nigerian descent but that side of my family, I don’t really have a huge history because I grew up with my mum and I don’t know much about my dad’s side so my knowledge is not so high on that.
So how often do you visit Nigeria?
This is actually my second time and it’s just been for athletics but hopefully I can come back in the future for events involving athletics. I would really love to help the youths when they are in camp to inspire them to be great hurdlers and track athletes as well.
So what’s the training like towards The Olympics?
It’s just more of getting ready, trying to be sharp. Been working hard but trying to slow down a bit so my body will be ready to be at its peak for The Olympics.
How do you intend to impact the next generation when you are finally retired?
I have been coaching for the past six years and I have coached at the high school level and now I am coaching at the collegiate level. Something I am really thinking of doing when I retire is to focus on coaching and see if I could find a chance to coach the next great Nigerian talents.
Thanks for your time. Wish you the best in Rio!
Thank you very much
Antwon Hicks will make his debut appearance at The Olympics and also for the Nigerian team as he competes in the first round of men’s 110m hurdles on the 15th of August. Hicks National Record of 13.27s places him on 16th position on the 2016 World ranking. We wish him the best in his pursuit!
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