Feature12 Aug 2013

Oliver's emotional victory made more special by mom's presence


David Oliver had a hard time talking to his mother after the biggest win of his life.

She was crying too hard, and for good reason.

In the same Luzhniki Stadium where his mother Brenda missed a chance to compete in the 1980 Olympics because of the US boycott, Oliver won the 110m Hurdles at the IAAF World Championships.

"I was coming down the home stretch, and I saw her," the muscular Oliver said. "It was a memorable moment."

Although every race is dedicated to his mother, this one was so special because Oliver, after running a nearly flawless race that produced the year's fastest time, 13.00.

"She is my biggest supporter, the backbone. She taught me everything I know." For her not being able to compete in '80 Games and to be here in the stadium, nothing could be better."

After winning a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics Games, the Brooks Johnson-coached hurdler, now 31, did not even make the  US squad for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

He tore his left calf in 2009 and last year at the US trials, between the semi-finals and finals, the calf locked up again.

"There was nothing I could do, so I just went out there and ran and got something like fifth. So I had to go home and it was time to reassess what I do," commented Oliver.

It was hard work, just coming up short and dealing with injuries.

"A lot of changes had to be made. We made them. Now I can sit back with my team and we can celebrate that we are World champions.”

Turning negatives into positives has always been a goal for the former college American football player who held the US record in his specialist event before Aries Merritt broke it last year with his World record of 12.80.

Oliver could not remember much about the race on Monday night in which fellow American Ryan Wilson was second and Russia's Sergey Shubenkov took the bronze medal.

"I came across the line and I said 'I am first'," reflected Oliver, the entire memory of the run.

However, there was plenty to recall from his semi-final run just a few hours earlier.

"I almost fell at the eighth hurdle," he said. "That was my wakeup call."

His coach, a veteran mentor who does not tolerate slack efforts, was very upset, added Oliver.

"He (Brooks Johnson) doesn't like you to show a lack of execution and I knew after the semi-finals I knew I was going to be in a bit of trouble.

“But I knew if I focused on the whole race, I would be ready to go."

He was when it counted most, and mom got to see it all.

Gene Cherry for the IAAF

Pages related to this article