The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Olympic medalist: Avoid shortcuts, follow dreams

By Marley Malenfant/feature editor

Former Olympian Hollis Conway (left) shows his two medals to students Melita Mensah (center) and Jean-Jacques Eyongegbe (right) after delivering his motivational speech on SE Campus.
Martina Treviño/The Collegian

Not many people believed in the man’s chances to compete in the Olympic high jumps, let alone break records. That is until two-time Olympian Hollis Conway jumped 7 feet, 10 inches in the indoor high jump, the fourth best of all time.

In his 16-year career, Conway ranked No. 1 in the U.S. for seven consecutive years, ranked in the top four in the world for six straight years and No. 1 in the world two straight years.

Conway retired in 2000 and wondered what he would do next. A little soul-searching gave Conway the answer. He is now a motivational speaker and spoke Feb. 23 at the SE Campus Roberson Theatre.

“At the end of my athletic career, I was at a crossroads with trying to figure out who I was,” he said. “I put my name in Google, and all these articles came up about schools I’ve gone to. So it was something that I was already doing. It’s a passion of mine to share Olympic stories and success principles with people.”

Conway’s motivation behind his speeches is having people find out who they are so they can accomplish their own goals and dreams.

“Whenever you work hard at anything and you accomplish it, it’s that exact same feeling whether it’s an Olympian platform or it’s studying for a test,” he said. “It’s that sense of accomplishment, and it doesn’t matter what it’s on. You could have a kid doing jumping jacks, and it’s a goal of 10, and they do 10. You can see the joy on their face.”

Conway advised students to avoid shortcuts in life. In his life, Conway said he’s seen or known of athletes cheating, most notably Ben Johnson.

“In any industry in life, people will find a way to take a shortcut. That’s just a part of life,” he said. “Unfortunately, in the society we live in, fans demand great feats like home runs or touchdowns, jumping high or running fast.

“You knew who was doing it, whether you saw it or not. You don’t have to witness them taking it [performance enhancing drugs]. It was pretty common knowledge.”

Conway hopes that younger athletes have a passion for what they’re doing.

“There’s a lot of people who are athletes for the wrong reason,” he said. “I think people need to go back and understand why they do what they do. Are you doing it because of peer pressure? Are you doing it for fame? Or are you doing it because you love the sport?”

Conway said athletes need to be more authentic. He took off his bronze and silver medals and said if he had worried about what others said about him, he would never have won a medal.

“You have to know where you come from to know where you’re going,” he said. “You’re creating history, and sometimes you get bogged down by your past and you’re not focusing on your future. Don’t be blindsided by other people’s greatness. Create your own greatness. Greatness isn’t defined by how many medals you’ve won. It’s defined by how hard you tried.”

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