Not many collegiate athletes consider themselves good enough to go for the gold after their careers come to a close. Syracuse University’s Track and Field Senior Donald Pollitt is one of the few who does, however, and this has become evident in his decision to try out for the 2016 Olympics.
With an overall best of 13.52 in the 110M hurdles, 7.75 in the 60M hurdles, and a 21.14 in the 200 meter dash, it is clear that Pollitt is Olympian material.
In efforts to get at the challenges he’s faced, goals he’s achieved, and ultimately, what has led to Pollitt’s decision to partake in the upcoming Olympic tryouts, Campus Sports caught up with Pollitt.
Throughout your collegiate career, what challenges have you faced?
Well, where do I begin…I feel as though the biggest challenge I’ve faced and overcome is the year I was ineligible. I was enjoying college and hanging with my teammates a little too much. So even though I was still running, my grades took a hit.
How did you overcome this challenge?
I feel as though ineligibility was the best thing that ever happened to me. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, and taking track away from me showed me that there are things that matter in addition to track. Grades are important too. And that made me refocus. I went hard that summer, dieting and losing 15 pounds. I became cut; I became lean. But I knew that wasn’t enough. So when the school year came around, I went hard at that too. It was a lot, but I wanted to improve both athletically and academically. And as a result of making those changes, I became an All American and had a high GPA junior year.
After overcoming this challenge, what advice do you have for incoming student athletes at Syracuse?
My advice would be to take advantage of all the opportunities you have around you, be very effective with time management, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Universities want to see you succeed; if you fail, they fail too.
What were some of your greatest accomplishments during your collegiate career?
Becoming an All American was my biggest accomplishment here at Syracuse. I was 6th in the country for my event (110M hurdles). And winning the last 60M Indoor Hurdle Championship Title before we made the switch from the Big East to ACC was a big accomplishment too because it allowed me to end on a good note.
What has led to these accomplishments and your overall success as an athlete?
My work ethic, and my will to never settle and never be content. I just think that mentality pushes me to be the best I can be. Also my teammates and my coaches. Especially my current coach, my high school coach, and my roommate and teammate Freddie Crittenden, who is also a hurdler for Syracuse. They’ve all helped me to build a foundation for success. And last but not least, my support system back home.
Could you tell me a little more about your support system from back at home?
Well, it consists of my mother, brother and sister. My mom is always telling me “track is great–but it’s not everything” and “try to enjoy it while you can.” And when I was ineligible, she told me what I needed to hear. She said “this is God’s way of testing you. You need to straighten up your act.” My mom isn’t just my support system, but she is also my motivation. I work as hard as I do so I can put myself in a position to make her proud, both on and off the track. My brother ran track in high school and is the reason I got into it. He showed me what I had to do to be a good hurdler. When he was a senior and I beat him at my first high school meet as a freshman, he didn’t get mad. He was happy for me. And he’s been happy for me ever since. He’s always checking in after meets. As for my sister, she’s always supported me, no matter what.
With your senior year coming to a close, what do you think you’ll miss most about collegiate running?
Being able to put on the uniform. On meet days, I can’t wait to put my uniform on. I’ll miss representing Syracuse with that S on my chest. I’ll miss running for the school that recruited me. For the coach who saw me as a little kid with potential. The last time wearing that jersey will be my saddest moment for sure.
What are your post-college plans?
I plan to take Track and Field as far as I’m able to because this is what I love. I don’t want to stop anytime soon. I believe that the only thing that should change is the uniform I’m wearing, and only because that’s inevitable. I also plan to continue my studies at Syracuse by participating in a year-long, Public Relations Graduate Program.
With this passion, athletic-ability, work-ethic, and resilience, Donald Pollitt is sure to have a success-filled outdoor season, and certainly one to watch out for in the 2016 Olympics
*Featured Photo (above) credit to Twitter