LAWRENCE – Olympic gold medalist and Kansas’ rising junior Diamond Dixon met with the media Wednesday at the Anderson Family Football Complex to discuss her experience at the 2012 Olympic Games. Dixon was a member of the six-person 4x400-meter relay team that won gold at the London Olympics last week.
Dixon, who hails from Houston, Texas, talked about her time in London, her performance in the 4x400-meter semifinals and the time when she received her medal. She earned gold as she ran the third leg of the relay's semifinal heat victory Friday and became the eighth KU track & field Olympic gold medalist and school’s first female gold-medal winner in a track event. She is KU's first track & field gold medalist since Al Oerter won the discus in the 1968 Mexico City Games and was the only current NCAA athlete to earn gold in London.
On Friday Dixon turned in the second-fastest split (50.15) on her U.S. 4x400 relay team. The group crossed the finish line with a commanding victory in a time of 3:22.09 to advance to Saturday's final. Coaches then selected 2012 Olympic champions Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards-Ross to replace Dixon and fellow semifinal runner Keshia Baker for the final.
The 20-yer-old earned a spot on the Olympic 4x400-meter relay team after placing fifth in the 400 meters at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials with a personal best and school record time of 50.88. She is the two-time defending Big 12 Champion in the outdoor 400 meters and, in March, became the first Kansas female to claim an NCAA title in a track event, winning the 400 meters at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Below is a brief transcript of Dixon’s press conference:
On her overall experience at the Olympics:
“This was a dream from the beginning. Actually being able to go (to London) and run was great. Then getting a gold medal and running the way I did in the semifinal was absolutely amazing. I couldn’t really do anything but tear up and be happy.”
On when she was told she would run in the semifinal Friday:
“I found out four days before the race. We did handoff workouts and they put me on a leg and I just thought to myself, ‘they wouldn’t put me on a leg if I’m not going to run.’ It was never really announced that I was going to officially run. We just practiced and warmed up and that was that.”
On if she was nervous in the days leading up to the race:
“I was definitely nervous because in practice they had tried to switch the way I take the baton. The way I take it is I usually look it in the whole way then after I get it I switch hands and run my heart out after that. (The coaches) were saying I needed to take two steps then turn around and get the baton and for me that’s totally different. That was kind of rough for me. They also had me on the second leg but Dee Dee (Trotter) was pushing me out of the lane on handoffs so they switched me to the third leg. I ended up PR’ing with my split and I was very happy with that.”
On the opportunity to represent her country:
“It was a great honor. So many people in the world dream of going to the Olympics. Being one of those people and getting a gold on top of that is an amazing feeling.”
On her thoughts of what she has gone through to get to this point in her career:
“Thinking of all the difficult moments and how hard I’ve worked to get through all the workouts, it really means a lot. I know I’ve worked hard and hard work really does pay off.”
On when she received her medal:
“I was actually very disappointed because I didn’t get it right away. They scheduled my flight for the day after the final. I had to fly back without it because they couldn’t pick them up before I left. They were going to send it to me and I was afraid it would get lost or stolen but they worked it out so Tim Weaver (Team USA’s relay coach) flew back with it. I’m pretty sure he took care of it like it was his child.
"Coach Redwine and I drove to the airport to pick it up and Coach Redwine was the one to put it around my neck. I couldn’t do anything but hug my coach. It was a great moment for both of us. It was something we both accomplishment."