pain. Switzerland. China. Qatar. When David Oliver flips through the pages of his
passport, he sees just how far he’s come. For the 110-meter hurdler and Coca-Cola
Ambassador for Active Living, the stamps in his passport are more than ink on paper.
Each one represents a stop on his journey to become the best in the world.
As with many professional athletes, Oliver’s journey has included injury and self-doubt. But his
mother, Brenda Chambers, who was also a professional hurdler, always found a way to lift him
back up. “If there was a time I got down about training,” recalls Oliver, “maybe because I wasn’t
running as fast as I wanted to, I would talk to my mom on the phone and she’d say, ‘You’ve
been basically around the world. You’re still blessed and are still living out your dream.’”
Oliver’s Olympic dream began later than most; he played football, basketball and baseball
in high school before trying track and ;eld. Even in college, at Howard University, he
initially focused more on football than on track. “I didn’t take it that seriously,” he
admits. “I didn’t have the discipline or focus it took to be as good as I could have
been.” When the coach called his mother and threatened to take away his
scholarship, Oliver realized it was time to shape up. “The worst thing is
getting a call from your mom and hearing you’re an embarrassment,”
he says. “I was 19 or 20 at the time and I was doing childish
things. I realized I needed to become a man.”
Some people talk about
overcoming life’s hurdles.
Olympic athlete David Oliver
leads by example.
From that point on, the hurdles became his life. He moved to Florida after
graduation and trained every day, both on the track and in the weight room,
often spending several hours practicing one small part of his technique.
Though he won a bronze medal in Beijing in 2008 and holds the record
for the fastest time by an American in his event, he says the real reward is
putting on the Team USA uniform. “When you are representing your country,
it is about more than you.”
Oliver takes every opportunity to share his experiences with underprivileged kids, hosting clinics in his hometown of Denver through his nonpro;t
organization Sub 13. “These kids are going through the same things I went
through,” he says. “I like to show them that I was able to make something
of myself and be somebody.” Oliver hopes to qualify for the Olympic Games
this month so he can add another stamp to his passport when he arrives in
London. He also hopes those kids’ passports will be full someday too.