Track and field made me stronger mentally and physically, I learned that I am somebody and that I do in fact contribute to the world around me.
Terry Benson is an American 400m hurdler from Las Vegas, Nevada. He is the middle child of 5 siblings (one sister, 3 brothers).
What’s your story?
I graduated from Rancho High School in 2008, but not before winning the president’s award for my academic achievement and ultimately raising my cumulative grade point average from a 1.4 to a 2.4 making a complete 180 turn around in my life. In addition, I was also the most valuable track player, a regional champion, and a top finisher in the 110 hurdles of the NIAA State Championships.
Finally understanding the significance of good grades and seeing what track and field could potentially do for me, I went to Central Arizona College. As a full time student, a full time athlete and working part time I made the deans and honors list every semester and joined Phi Theta Kappa (International Honor Society). I paid out of pocket my first year because my track times weren’t good enough for a scholarship (considering the fact that I had just started running track). I received a full track and field scholarship my second year and was awarded the team captain position. I graduated from CAC with an Honors Associates Degree which led me to a track and field scholarship to the University of Tennessee, where I then graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science with a Concentration in Public Administration. While at Tennessee I was named to the South Eastern Conference Academic Honor Roll and won both The Tennessee Volunteers most valuable player and most improved player awards.
I graduated from The University of Tennessee in May 2013. I went back home to Las Vegas, started working, and I went to EMT school. I was missing track and field so I decided to start training a little bit and I ended up running my first 5K. I placed third and felt good about it but after the 5K I stopped running completely. I started working for the Department of family services and I began to pursue my graduate degree. It’s not that I did not like my job or that I didn’t enjoy my life, but I knew that I wouldn’t be happy for the rest of my life. There was something missing from my life and in the back of my mind I knew it was track and field but I tried my best to suppress it. I received the opportunity to be a part of Altis the summer of 2015 when I ran into a friend at a track meet. I expressed my interest in still wanting to run and he encouraged me to apply to Altis. I knew that it will be difficult, and I knew that I would have to completely uproot my life and start heading in a different direction. With the financial and emotional support of my spouse, my family, and my friends I was able to come to the conclusion that this is what I wanted to do.
Until I was introduced to Track and field, I felt no connection to anything or anyone; I was weak minded, and had no idea of the beautiful world that was out there waiting for me to indulge into. Track and field made me stronger mentally and physically, I learned that I am somebody and that I do in fact contribute to the world around me. I was finally confident, which helped me finally stand up for myself. I was far more disciplined because of the rigorous training schedule and the responsibility I had. Track and field allowed me to remain focused in life and I’ve been able to sustain friendships I could have never predicted.
I have learned that time management is such an important factor in life and thanks to track and field I have been successful at managing my time. There are far too many young people who let their situation get the best of them. I am not one of those people, I wish to make the most of my life and I believe pursuing a track and field career will allow me to do so. I wish to see this through to its conclusion and training at the Altis will allow me to do so.
Post-collegiate track and field is very difficult and you are solely responsible for you.
What was your most monumental moment in Track and Field?
I remember this moment like it was yesterday, I have never run 60m hurdles before and I did not even want to participate the short hurdles because I had convinced myself I was not a sprinter. My coach was convinced I could do well in the 60m hurdles but I had never ran indoor track and field nor was I accustomed to sprinting so quickly. To me, the race was so short it seemed as though it was over before it even started. To be quite honest, I was actually very intimidated by such an explosive race. I hardly practiced the hurdles all year because I was having such a bad indoor season and it was partly because of my mindset. I was just not into it, by doing so I set myself up for failure.
The conference championships were two weeks away and the seven step phenomenon was going on throughout the nation. I changed my attitude and I told my coach that maybe I should try to take the seven step approach to the first hurdle. He didn’t agree so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I had never practiced it before but so I knew that I was taking a big risk. The Southeastern Conference Championships were finally here and all I could do was pray. During the preliminary round, I got into the blocks and went seven steps the first hurdle for the first time ever and I qualified for the finals. In the final there were some of the best guys in the nation, in fact one of the guys had broken the SEC record and had actually went on to win and break the NCAA meet record. I was racing against some quality athletes to say the least. The gun went off, I took seven steps to the first hurdle and before I knew it the race was over. I looked at the clock and saw that I placed third, I won the bronze medal at the SEC championships and I broke the 8 second barrier for the first time, I was so ecstatic! My team was happy, my coaches were happy, and I was happy.
What is your mindset going into the Olympic year?
Interestingly enough, I have never qualified for the USA championships so my goal is to qualify for the Olympic trials. This will be my first USA championship meet ever. I’m approaching this season with the same intensity as I have my previous seasons but my training and my mindset is completely different. Post-collegiate track and field is very difficult and you are solely responsible for you. There aren’t as many people calling you, checking up on you, and making sure that everything is ok. You have to take care of things on your own.
Always remember that when you’re tired you’re getting better.
How is your training going so far?
I have never done at least 80% of the things that I do now; this goes from the warm-up, all the way to the weight room, and everything in between. I’ve also never been around so many quality athletes who have such positive attitudes and work so hard. I’m training with people who are so experienced and who have been doing this for over half of their lives. One thing I know for sure is this entire process has humbled me completely. I get my butt kicked at practice a lot but it’s making me stronger and I’m so excited to start competing. I take everything seriously now, stretching, my cool down, my warm up, and all the small things are so much more important to me now. I take care of my body by making sure that I get proper sleep at night, and I make sure that I drink lots of water.
Advice to Young Athletes
To all of the younger athletes, please listen to and respect your coaches. You are in this together and your success depends on your relationship with your coach. Please take care of yourselves and try to take training as serious as possible. Always remember that when you’re tired you’re getting better.
Never give up on your goals, the hardest part to training is getting started.
Thank you for Reading and check out next weeks Feature Friday with American Sprinter Frankie Wright!!
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