walter-dix_web.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE — Hometown hero and track and field sprinter Walter Dix is used to making things happen in a big way.

Dating back to his days at Coral Springs High School through 2004, his world-class abilities on the track stood apart from the rest as he was named the top high school sprinter in the nation and the Sun-Sentinel Track Athlete of the Year twice before graduating. Those feats aside, the now 22-year old Florida State University social sciences graduate is about to realize a dream that has taken him straight to the top of the track and field world. Dix has qualified for the Team USA roster for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in both the men’s 100 and 200 meter events.

Finishing first in the Olympic trials in the 200 with a time of 19.86, and second in the 100 at 9.80, he said it is all part of his journey towards gold. “Making the team is the biggest stage; you can not go any higher. It is a two stage process making it, then winning it,” Dix said.

Dix credits his support system (father Washington, mother Plinnie and three older brothers) as a major influence in his career. “They (his parents) are the main reason I got my degree, especially when sometimes it is hard to focus on the future and the aftermath of athletics” he admitted. “I always try not to let the pressure get to me because I really have nothing to lose.”

His nothing to lose mentality and pension for proving his critics wrong have allowed him to accumulate staggering numbers along the way. He is an eight-time NCAA champion and only the second man to ever win the NCAA 200 meter outdoor title three times. He is tied for third in NCAA history with six individual outdoor national championships and has accumulated 18 All-American honors.

Dix set the collegiate record in the 200 meter at the NCAA East Regional in Gainesville with a winning time of 19.69 seconds (the seventh-fastest time in the history of the event), and in May became the first since 1969 to win the 100, 200 and 4×100 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

Dix agent, Kim Holland who is the founder and CEO of the Atlanta, GA based sports agency Icon Management Inc. said her partnership with her star athlete has been a “groundbreaking” experience. “We [have] just done the largest endorsement deal (with Nike) for a track athlete in history,” she said. “It has all been surreal in the sense that I feel it was designed for Walter and I to come together. The opportunity to work with Walter is the icing on the cake,” she added.

Holland admits the ride has continued to be an interesting one, having witnessed Dix equal or surpass the achievements of some of her other current stable of Olympians in a very short period of time. Holland’s clients include defending 2004 Olympic 200 meter champion and gold medalist Shawn Crawford, whom Dix recently beat by five thousandths of a second to qualify for the games.

As the moment nears for Dix to shine on center stage, he said he hopes to carry the humility and grace of his idol, the great Jesse Owens, all the way to the winners’ stand. “If I do come out on top I plan to stay on top,” he said.

He will open up Olympic competition August 15th with the first round of the 100 meters, with the 200 meters to follow on August 18th.

Photo: Walter Dix