The quotes listed below come mainly from hurdlers, hurdle coaches, or people in the world of Track & Field. Most of them have to do with hurdling, competing, or coaching, although some are about life in general as well. Many come from profiles that appear in the “Profiles” section of this website. Sometimes a quick word of wisdom can serve as a good motivating tool or guide through a difficult time. I hope that some or all of the quotes below serve you well.
-Steve McGill


“When your timing is off, so is your stride. When your cadence is off, you’re in deep trouble as a hurdler.”
-Rodney Milburn, 1972 Olympic high hurdle champion

“I never really worried about those hurdles. They were just standing there, and I was always zooming past them just to get back on the ground again.”
-Rodney Milburn

“I used to get so comfortable running the hurdles, I was just like a ballet dancer going out there and going through the routines.”
-Rodney Milburn

“A good hurdler has to be completely familiar with everything that goes on so if something happens he can automatically make an adjustment.”
Rodney Milburn

“You must see yourself run the race over and over, time and time again. You must put yourself in critical positions and see how you would react in those positions before the race so when and if they do happen, the feedback is automatic.”
-Rodney Milburn

“The art form is to become one with the hurdle, to make it your friend, and I embraced that process.”
-Renaldo Nehemiah, 3-time world record breaker in 110m hurdles

“You’re a dancer; don’t strain, don’t force it. Be one with the hurdle, let it happen, relax while running fast.”
-Renaldo Nehemiah

“I became a teacher because I wanted to coach.”
-Jean Poquette, Renaldo Nehemiah’s high school coach

“Becoming a great coach is very much like becoming a great hurdler. It requires a lot of time, a lot of intense interest and a lot of energy.”
-Jean Poquette

“Good coaches, good athletes, good people are open to new ideas and always trying to learn more, to reflect and improve upon the human condition.”
-Joe Guty, high school teammate of Renaldo Nehemiah

“It’s about stepping up on the big stage. The athlete who can do that is goig to do well.”
-Allen Johnson, 1996 Olympic 110mh gold medalist, 4-time world champion

“You really just love those opportunities and being a competitior in those situations [when running against the best]. I think that’s when the art of hurdling and love of competition are at their purest.”
-Terrence Trammell, two-time Olympic silver medalist (2000, 2004)

“In order to be great, you have to learn from greatness, which is what I have tried to do.”
-David Oliver, 2008 Olympic110mh Bronze Medalist

“The ultimate winners are willing to take ultimate risks.”
-Brooks Johnson, coach of David Oliver (and many others over the years)

“You kind of get wiser as you run the hurdles. I actually believe that.”
-David Payne 2008 Olympic 110mh Silver Medalist

“The key thing in the hurdles is that it’s a development event. You might not do a damn thing one year, and then things just click. You really can’t discount athletes who may not stand out immediately. It may take two or three years for an athlete to develop.”
-Kevin Young, 1992 Olympic Gold Medalist in the 400m hurdles

“If you train athletes in the mechanics of the event, then you add the speed and stamina, everything will mesh.”
-Kevin Young

“Everybody who runs the 400 hurdles should be able to alternate [lead legs]. You should be able to get to the hurdle and make up your mind. Bottom line is, you have to be prepared.”
-Kevin Young

“The hurdles have taught me that if you work really, really hard at perfecting the little things in your life, the big picture will come together.”
–John Shaffer, 400m hurdler for Marquette University

“How you go over hurdle one should be how you go over hurdle ten. You need the strength to accelerate, and to maintain form.”
-Selim Nurudeen, 110m hurdler for Notre Dame

“When you envision yourself doing something, you’ll be surprised at how much that helps you to actually do it.”
-Selim Nurudeen

“If you take care of the individual aspect, the team aspect takes care of itself.”
-Andrea Mosher, 400m hurdler for Illinois State University

“If you’re afraid of falling, hitting your knees, afraid of the obstacle, or of any other obstacles in your life, don’t try the hurdles.”
-Reggie Towns, 1983 NCAA 110m hurdles runner-up

“Hurdling requires more than just speed. It requires flexibility, strength, and courage.”
-Reggie Towns

“A hurdler needs something to do. Just running a straight 100 or straight 200, that’s boring for a hurdler.”
-Reggie Towns

“Hurdling is like Kung-fu. Everyone comes from a different school. And everybody says ‘my Kung-fu is better than your Kung-fu.’ You have to find the technique that best fits your body size.”
-Larry Shipp, 1975 NCAA 110m hurdles champion

“Anybody who’s into coaching to fill their own egocentric needs is in it for the wrong reasons.”
-Lee Pantas, Coach at Asheville-Reynolds High School in Asheville, NC

“It’s really all about your training. Whatever you train for, you’ll be ready for.”
-Nadine Faustin, 2004 Olympic 100m hurdles semi-finalist

“Every hurdler I know has hit a hurdle hard, or fell over one. . . . Don’t be afraid to fall, because you’re going to. It’s what you do afterwards that matters.”
-Laron Bennett, 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials 400m hurdles finalist

“The first thing a hurdler learns is how to fall.”
-Tonie Campbell, 3-time Olympian in 110m hurdles

“If you’re not ready to fall, you’re not ready to hurdle.”
-Tonie Campbell

“To be the best, you have to go out and do more. That’s an easy thing to say, but when you actually do it, it’s a different story.”
-Porscha Dobson, 100m hurdler for UNC-Chapel Hill

“A coach takes on many roles. Being a coach is like being a father, uncle, brother, mother – all those things wrapped up into one.”
-Marcus Walker, youth track coach, ranked 2nd in the world in the 110m hurdles in 1970

“You’ll have to build up, fall down, get back up, just like in life you have to build up, fall down, and get back up. It’s all good. If you come into the sport aware of those things, you’ll be fine.”
-Marcus Walker

“Pigeonhole the mistakes, remember them, then when you see the same thing happening again, you can remember how to correct it from how you corrected it in practice.”
-Mike Shine, 1976 Olympic Silver Medallist in the 400m hurdles

“I believe you make life what you want it to be; you can reach goals you never thought you could if you keep at it.”
-Mike Shine

“You have to transfer your success on the track to your education, because you don’t want to waste what you did athletically once your athletic career is over.”
-Beau Walker, recent graduate of the University of Alabama, pr’s of 12.96 (100m hurdles) and 56.28 (400m hurdles)

“If I’m more prepared, the success will fall on me; if not, it will fall on someone else, and I’m okay with that.”
-Beau Walker

“I have always wanted to teach, and coaching is teaching.”
-Shelia Burrell, 2004 Olympics 4th-place finisher in the heptathlon

“I approach the heptathlon and life in the same way in that I not only want to be good at what I am doing, but I want it to mean something.”
-Shelia Burrell

“In the hurdles you have ten opportunities to improve; that’s what’s so cool about it.”
-Ron Bramlett, Two-time NCAA 110mHH champion; 4th-place finisher at USA Outdoor Nationals in 2004

“It’s all about mechanics; all the weight-lifting in the world can’t help you if you’re not running correctly.”
-Ron Bramlett

“You have to take a leap of faith to realize a dream, and this is something that a lot of people aren’t willing to do.”
-Ron Bramlett

“The times when I am running the best are when it feels effortless. The body is on autopilot, doing what you have trained it to do.”
-Perdita Felicien, 2003 100h World Champion, 2007 WC silver medalist

The key of success for an athlete is training hard. The key to success for a coach is never stop learning.”
-Sun Haiping, coach of 110m world-record holder Liu Xiang.

“I’ve always tried to tell myself that the work itself is the thing, that win, lose, or draw, the work is really what counts.”
-Former NBA Great Julius Erving

“So if you’re blessed with the talent, utilize it to the fullest, be true to yourself and stay humble.”
-Gift of Gab (hip-hop artist)

“If any running event, you are absolutely alone. Nobody can help you.”
-John Landy, Australian distance runner from the 1950’s

“Some people create with words or with music or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people stop and say, ‘I’ve never seen anyone run like that before.’ It’s more than just a race, it’s style.”
-Steve Prefontaine, American distance legend from the 1970’s

“I might lose because I wasn’t tall enough; I might lose because I wasn’t fast enough. But I wasn’t going to lose because I wasn’t ready.”
-Bill Bradley, former New York Knick, former U.S. Senator

“Sport is an essential element of education.”
-George Sheehan, former cardiologist and distance runner

“The key to good technique is to keep your hands, feet, and hips straight and centered. If you are centered, you can move freely.”
-from The Art of Peace by Morihei Ueshiba

“A technique can only work if it is in harmony with universal principles. Such principles need to be grasped through Mind, pure consciousness. Selfish desires thwart your progress, but Mind, not captivated by notions of victory or defeat, will liberate you. Mind fixes your senses and keeps you centered. Mind is the key to wondrous power and supreme clarity.”
-Morihei Ueshiba

“Life itself is always a trial. In training, you must test and polish yourself in order to face the great challenges of life.”
-Morihei Ueshiba

“Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something.”
-Morihei Ueshiba

© 2009 Steve McGill

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