The first thing I learned about Khadevis Robinson is that he is just a regular guy. He may be a two-time Olympian, but you would never know it talking to him. With an easy smile and fun demeanor, Robinson puts people at ease, and he did just that during our conversation Monday.
Robinson, along with Nick Symmonds and Duane Solomon, will be headed to London as part of the USA’s 800M team. Almost 36, and one of the top 10 fastest men in the world, Robinson sure has his feet on the ground.
I think the reason for that must have come from his upbringing, which Robinson described as less than ideal. His family didn’t have a lot of food, clothing or the finer comforts of life. But what he did have was two loving parents who showed him how to treat others, and coaches who pushed and prodded him to be the best.
I always assumed that athletes loved the sport they play. Robinson said he didn’t start loving track & field until his senior year…..of college at TCU! He said around that time he realized, mostly by others telling him, that he could have future in track. He explained that in his first few years at TCU, the developmental coaches would take athletes to Europe, so they could get used to running in that circuit. All he had to do was get his passport, and everything else would be taken care of.
He passed on the trip three times. He shook his head and smiled as he told me that story. He is happy now that he has found his love for running. Or should I say WE are all happy that he has found his love for running.
Our conversation got around to the 2004 Olympic games in Athens, Greece. Me, I’m interested in everything Olympics, thinking the experience would be a thrill of a lifetime. He said it was, but that he missed the opening ceremonies. Stunned, I asked why. He said that he didn’t want to be on his feet that long, and he wanted to stay focused on his events.
Robinson made it clear that he doesn’t believe in regrets, but if he could do it over, he might do things differently. Let me make one thing clear, Robinson loved/loves representing the United States, but sometimes the competitor gets the best of him. He is as focused as any athlete I have ever encountered. That’s why he is on his second Olympic team.
We talked about the 2008 Olympic Trials, where Christian Smith beat him with a dive at the finish line. He said after that race, he was devastated and contemplated retirement.
However once the dust settled, he realized he didn’t want to go out that way. He was also inspired by the many letters and e-mails he received, imploring him to give it one more shot. He said after the 2010 season, he knew he still had what it took to be a champion.
Fast forward two years to the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon.
If you’re like me, you wondered what happened from where he started to where he finished. He said it was all part of the plan, explaining to me the tactics behind the that race, and how it turned out how he expected. Well, let me restate that. He expected to win, not finish second.
That drive, and skill, is what he expects out of himself in the 2012 games. He realizes that barring a miracle, this is his last go-round as an Olympic athlete. With a growing family, he understands his responsibilities as a father and husband supersede his ability on the track. He can’t wait to not only compete in his events, but also cheer on all the athletes. He has put in tireless work to reach this pinnacle, and wants to give back to others.
Robinson loves running, but he loves coaching even more. He explained to me some of his greatest accomplishments have taken place away from the track. At TCU, he volunteered at an elementary school, working with a kid around the age of 6. Years later, he gets a Facebook request from a guy he doesn’t recognize. This young man was thanking Robinson for helping shape his life 15 years prior. The smile on Robinson’s face stretched from ear to ear. It’s those type of stories that he wants to continue to tell in the future.
That’s why Robinson is a full-time Assistant Track & Field Coach at UNLV. He says as a kid, he always felt like he wanted to do something special for others. Sports has opened many doors for him, and he wants to hold those doors open for every Rebel athlete that he encounters.
He understands running is a vehicle to help motivate and inspire others to be the best, while helping them attain the goals they set out for themselves.
You would think as a two-time Olympic athlete, recruiting would be like knocking down ducks in a row. But he doesn’t use his Olympic success as a tool in his job. He only talks about it, if the conversation naturally veers that way.
If he won’t say it, I will.. Khadevis Robinson is a two-time Olympic athlete. But he is also a great coach, and an even better person.
Good luck in London, Khadevis! Las Vegas is pulling for you and will be following you Olympic progress on Twitter @khadevis and on Facebook @ www.facebook.com/pages/Khadevis-Robinson/24900445185