Claims track program’s first medal since 1996; continues FSU’s streak to five straight games with medal
Never doubt Walter Dix.
Questioned countless times for not turning professional after his phenomenal junior year or after he injured his hamstring in the spring, the Florida State sprinter proved his merit against the best runners in the world August 16. Using his world-class closing speed, Dix passed the majority of the field in the final 40 meters of the 100m finals at the Beijing Summer Olympics to bring home the bronze medal with a personal-best time of 9.91.
"We’re just so unbelievably happy for Walt," FSU head coach Bob Braman said. "He’s the last of a breed of collegiate athletes that have done it the right way, and this is his reward. He didn’t get off to the greatest of starts, but as the whole world now knows, very few people can close a race like Walt."
The seventh Seminole to win an Olympic medal, he is the first Florida State track and field athlete to win an Olympic medal since Kim Batten won the silver in the 400m hurdles at the 1996 Games in Atlanta. He keeps FSU’s streak alive of at least one medal since the 1992 when Michelle Finn received a gold as part of the United State’s 4x100m relay. After Batten, Doug Mientkiewicz was a member of the 2000 gold medal Team USA baseball squad and Stephen Parry took the bronze in the 200m butterfly at the 2004 games in Athens.
Dix earned his way into the finals by posting a then season-best time of 9.95 in the semifinals. With the 200m starting on August 18 and the 4x100m relay on the horizon, he has completed the first step toward being the only American male track and field athlete with a chance to win three Olympic medals.
Also making news at the Olympics was freshman long jumper Ngoni Makusha (Mandedza, Zimbabwe). The NCAA Outdoor Champion placed fourth in the finals on August 18.
Former Seminole and British team member Andrew Lemoncello ran in the opening round of the 3000m steeplechase on August 16. He posted a time of 8:36.06 to take 28th.
Only one Seminole was in action August 16. With a time of 3:40.30, volunteer assistant coach Kevin Sullivan of Canada placed ninth in the second semifinal heat of the 1500m. His 3:36.05 in the prelims was tied for the seventh-fastest. The top five in each semifinal and the next two fastest runners qualified for the August 19 finals.
With 13 participants, the 2008 Games in Beijing has the largest contingency of Seminoles. The previous high was the 2000 Games, which saw 10 athletes compete while the 1984 Games in Los Angeles had nine. FSU has had at least one Olympian in every Summer Olympics since 1972. Keeping the streak alive when the United States boycotted the 1980 Olympics in Moscow was diver Wendy Fuller, who competed as a member of the Canadian Olympic Team.