In 2011, UT long-jumper Marquise Goodwin struggled in the global arena, failing to make the World Championships finals by one centimeter. Now he’s achieved the ultimate redemption: Goodwin has landed himself a spot on the 2012 U.S.A. Olympic team.
At the Olympic Trials in June, Goodwin achieved a career-best jump of 27-foot-4 for first place. He’s the first collegian to win long-jump titles at both the NCAA Championships and the U.S. Olympic Trials in the same year since 1960. (He won his second career national championship with a 27-0 jump in June.)
Now headed off to London on Sunday, Goodwin is ready to prove he can hang with the world’s best. But don’t worry, Texas football fans: the wide-receiver won’t be missing too much of fall camp.
Here, Goodwin talks prep, nerves, and what’s it like to go from a Lubbock Olympian to the real deal.
How he got his start
“The summer of 1999 was my first track meet. I was on a team called the Lubbock Olympians. Man, so many good memories. I won, and that’s why I’ve stayed with it. I like the feeling of winning; there’s nothing like victory. That’s why I’m here today.”
Prepping for the Olympics
“I’ve been preparing since [the Olympic Trials in] Oregon. I’ve been able to work out a lot—just staying on routine. I leave Sunday, and it’ll be interesting to get over there and start training. I just need to stay on track.”
His support system
“My mom and my grandmother and other family members have been here the whole way. They always encourage, and they’ve always been by my side through the ups and the downs. My grandmother’s coming to London, and I can’t recall her ever coming to a track meet outdoors. It’s her first time overseas, as well as my mom’s. They’re going to have a lot of fun.”
Getting advice from the pros
“Really they’ve just told me to stay the course. It’s going to be a different experience. They say, ‘You’ve made the world championship team, but it’s nothing like the Olympic team.’ I’m not going to worry about the hype. To me, it’s just a bigger meet with a different name.”
How football helps him prepare
“I’m a really aggressive guy and really passionate. Those are traits you see on the football field that you don’t really get to see in track and field. I think that’s what I bring to the sand and to the runway.”
On being a Longhorn in London
“It means a lot, especially to still be at the University with another year. Words can’t even explain. I dreamt of going to the Olympics as a young kid. I dreamt of being a Longhorn as a young kid. So far I’ve accomplished both. I’m just honored to be able to consider myself a Longhorn, as well as a Longhorn Olympian.”
Performance jitters (or lack thereof)
“There’s no nervousness going on here. You know, I’ve been doing this a long time, and this is a lifelong dream. This isn’t my first meet overseas. It’s a new year, and I’ve been training really well. My fitness is great. I’m ready to put it all out there on the line.”
What he’s most looking forward to
“The thing I’m looking forward to most is getting on that medal stand. And really just competing. It’s going to be a stiff competition, but I’m getting ready to rock and roll.”
On fulfilling a lifelong dream
“I’m really excited to go to the Olympics. It’s a once-in-lifetime opportunity that most people don’t get. For me to be able to represent not only myself, but my team, my university, my church, my family, my friends, and my coaches—I feel honored.”
Top: photo by Jim Sigmon, courtesy UT Athletics. Bottom: Goodwin, sporting a polo from the 1968 Olympic Games, speaks to reporters about his upcoming trip to London.