Walter Dix: Hero In The Making?
While we've focused on names like Lopez Lomong, Tyson Gay and Bernard Lagat, a 22-year-old kid out of Florida State could be the United States' most heralded track star in the Beijing Games.
Going into Monday night, he still has the opportunity to be the only member of the U.S. track and field team to pick up three medals.
His name is Walter Dix and he's through to the semifinals of the 200-meter race after picking up the bronze in the 100 meters over the weekend.
I sat down with his agent, Kimberly N. Holland of Icon Management, this morning.
(Transcript of interview follows.)
Darren: Walter's story is so amazing: He had been offered to go pro out of Florida State. Tell me what happened next.
Kimberly: Incredible. About a year ago, Walter Dix was offered so many sponsorship opportunities -- Adidas, Reebok and Nike. And this young man, fine young man, was very focused, remained focused all his collegiate years and made a vow to himself and to his family that he will remain in school and will not give up his eligibility to get his degree. And he stayed true to that and here we are a year later.
Darren: He placed one and two in the 100 meters and the 200 meters at the US Trials. Tell me what happens, He hires you, Nike went after him and then they come back. Tell me how that helped him in negotiations?
Kimberly: After the 100 meters, everyone was kind of like, "Is he really going to pull this through? Is he going to make the 200 meter team? We just want to hold off. The kind of money that you're asking for, we're not willing to pay that right now. We're just not 100 percent convinced that he can pull this off after coming off the (hamstring) injury for the last couple of months."
After the 200 meters, the phone starts ringing and ringing. It's like "we're going to do this deal, Kimberly." And I said, "Look, my offer is still the same. Are you guys going to do the deal?" And I think about a week after trials, I get this call and Nike says, "We're willing to go ahead and do this deal. And then I just took a breath and said, "Wow."
Darren: And he gets the largest contract ever for a track star out of college [sources say it's in the top 10 percent of all track contracts]. Take me through to over the weekend here. The 100 meters. Tyson Gay is not in the finals. He gets the bronze. He's wearing Oakleys, so obviously you got that deal too. How much does that help, that he's not the fastest man in the world -- but on that day he was the fastest American?
Kimberly: Walter is the future. He's 22 years old and you think of somebody like Tyson, who is also a great athlete. There's years there. Walter is a fresh new talent. So obviously any sponsor wants to invest those types of dollars in someone who has a bright future.
Darren: You talk about his age. If he doesn't win gold in the 200 meters, but already had the bronze, how does that help him for someone willing to invest in him for 2012 in London?
Kimberly: It helps tremendously. It has already started. The Oakley deal. We were in discussions there at the trials. Any smart investor would understand the likelihood of someone at 22 years old. The potential that he has. What he's already exhibited at such a young age.
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