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Interval Session #128 - Chalonda Goodman

By SteveU - June 11, 2009

When you think of Chalonda Goodman, you always think of that winning smile.  How can you not?  You’ve seen it for three years now, in Mobile, Columbia, Lexington, and now this year, in Boston.  But most of all, you’ve seen it in Greensboro and Albany – Greensboro, where Goodman won her first Nike Outdoor Nationals titles as a Newnan sophomore, coming in ranked 4th in the 200 and not even in the top 10 in the 100, yet sweeping them both.  And Albany, where she came in as a freshman the year before already set on trying to win the dashes all four years, a feat which she accomplished when she crossed her final finish line there a month ago, despite all the wind and storms Mother Nature could dish out that weekend.

Next week, she will head back up to North Carolina to try for her 5th and 6th career dash titles at NON, and a sweep of the indoor and outdoor dashes for the calendar year – both unprecedented feats.  In previous years, Goodman has not recorded the very fastest times, and has seen some of her competition go to Juniors or other meets.  But this year, having held the legal US#1 100 (11.30) and 200 (23.32) times almost all year, sprinters have no excuses for not coming to Greensboro if they want to race the best.  She will also compete in Eugene the following weekend for a spot on the Pan-Am Juniors team.  But before the whirlwind of national and international competition, Goodman took time for a few questions with DyeStat senior editor SteveU.

With brother Cedric (Demiko) at Taco Bell this year.  Photo Donna Dye
1)  First off, a belated congrats on your state championship runs last month.  From what I saw, it looks like you had to deal with some really crazy weather there.  Can you tell us what that weekend was like and what it meant to complete a four-year sweep of the 100 and 200 at the state meet?  I know you take a lot of pride in what you’ve done in Georgia.

Thanks!  The weather was definitely crazy throughout the weekend.  There were scattered thunderstorms, a rain delay, and I had a personal encounter with a monstrous head wind, which I was told was over a 4.0.  A few days after Taco Bell (in April), I strained my right inner quad, and as soon as that minor injury started to get better, I strained my left groin.  At that point I had to take some time off and, leading up to the regionals, my legs started to feel much better. 

Therefore, after just getting over my nagging injuries, going into the state meet I mainly wanted to be able to compete well enough to complete my four-year sweep of the 100 and 200, because no one had ever done it before, and it had been my goal since I was a freshman..  Also, breaking the 200 state record and my own state record in the 100 were goals that would have been the icing on the cake.  On the day of the finals, I won the 100, but I did not break my own state record.  After the 100, I regrouped and got myself ready for the 200. 

As soon as the 200 finals were about to begin, the sky turned purple and the wind started blowing.  While I was running, I felt like I was running in a tornado!  After battling the ridiculous wind, I came out on top with another win.  Although I did not break any records that day, I was still thankful and blessed to be the first athlete to ever win both the 100 and 200 all four years in high school in the state of Georgia.  I also won the most outstanding performance award in the 100 and 200 at the state meet.
2)  You have a chance next week to make it a 3-year sweep of the Nike Outdoor 100 and 200, as well as taking home your 7th and 8th Nike titles overall (including indoor).  What would it mean for you now, as a senior, to be able to go down to Greensboro and win those races one more time?

Taking home a 3-year sweep of the Nike Outdoor 100 and 200 has been one of my ultimate goals since the beginning of my senior year, and it means so much to me.  It would officially put an amazing end to my high school career.

  Winning the 60 at NIN this winter.
Jeannette Seckinger
3) Can you take us back to two years ago at Nike Outdoor?  You were a sophomore, racing older, better known girls like Gabby Mayo and Tiffany Townsend, but you came out on top and set the stage for the next few years.  What memories stick in your mind most from that meet?  Were you freaked out at all, or did you really expect to win?  Do you remember what the weeks afterward were like, now that you were suddenly a 2-time national high school champion?

That year was mind blowing!  It certainly was a shock to me to win both the 100 and 200 against a field of athletes such as Gabby Mayo and Tiffany Townsend.  I was just the little sophomore girl who no one hardly knew. 

The memories that stick in my mind the most from the meet is turning around after finishing the 100 and seeing my name flash across the screen with a number one by it, and I immediately jumped up and down, praising God.  I also remember seeing my name flash on the screen after I won the 200 after a close finish between Brittany Long and I.  The weeks afterward I was so thankful and pumped up for the rest of my season, especially the opportunity to compete in the World Youth Championships

4)  Speaking of the World Youth Championships, when you think of what you learned there, that you might not have otherwise gotten to pick up on, what would it be?  Off the track, what is your best memories of the trip?  If a girl who made this year’s team asked you what to expect in terms of traveling with a US team overseas, what would you tell her?

I learned that even though people are from different nations, cultures and backgrounds, they really are not that much different from you and I.  My best memories of the trip off the track are memories of how extremely nice all of the other athletes from different countries were, and how well we all interacted and had fun.  I would tell someone competing this year that it is an adventure of a lifetime, and stay focused enough on the track to perform well and relaxed enough off the track to enjoy it.

5)  Every high school track star has thoughts about the Olympics, but I’ve gathered from what I’ve read that you’ve been more inspired than most.  Not every kid grows up with memories of an Olympics in her home town.  Tell us about those first memories and inspirations in 1996 and also what you found most motivating or moving from 2008.

I remember watching athletes such as Michael Johnson (and his gold shoes), Marion Jones, and Gail Devers.  I was inspired by all of these athletes and especially Michael Johnson shattering world records.  In the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, I was not only motivated by track athletes, but also swimmers Micheal Phelps and Dara Torres, and gymnast Shawn Johnson.  In track and field, I was inspired by Usain Bolt and his new world records.  One of my ultimate goals in life is to able to join such athletes in the Olympics, and I hope and pray I will be able to in 2012. 

  Talking about winning the NON dashes as a soph in 2007.  Photo John Dye
6)  I also get the sense that while many great athletes have some kind of strong family support system, you have family members – your mom, dad, and brother – that play very specific and special roles in your success.  Can you talk deeply about what each of them means to you both on and off the track?

Each person in my family has played a specific role in my success.  Both of my parents have sacrificed both their time and finances to support me over the years.  My mom, Patricia Goodman, has specifically been my academic advisor from kindergarten to the 12th grade, helping with special projects and term papers, etc.  Anything lower than a 95 on a report card was not acceptable to her.  That is probably why I graduated with high honors with a 100.36 GPA and ranked number 8 out of 417 of my graduating class. 

My father, Harold Goodman, has been a teacher and coach for 30 years in the public school system and a minister for many years.  He has also been all of these things to me my entire life, including forcing me to eat my fruits and vegetables when I do not want to.

My brother, Cedric “Demiko” Goodman, has always been my role model and inspiration my entire life.  He has inspired me by example, overcoming obstacles and injuries while playing football at the University of Georgia.  He played an entire football game with a torn ACL that happened at the beginning of the game.  He has completed his football career at the University of Georgia and graduated with two degrees and has signed a free agent contract with the Pittsburgh Stealers, pursing his NFL dream. 

I have to mention my wonderful summer coach, Lascelles Lewis, who I consider a part of my family because he has helped mold me into the athlete I am today.

7) Given the way you’ve stayed consistent and improved each year, I’m guessing there are some strong training principles you have developed, both on and off the track.  Can you talk about some of the extra things you’ve done to improve in certain areas and to try and give yourself an edge?

I mainly have been working on my start and quickness, but most importantly I have stayed humble and given all the glory to God.

8) You seem like someone whose religious and/or spiritual life is very important and something that gives you strength and comfort.  How has your growth as an athlete and spiritually worked together to

Honors at the Georgia State Meet this year.  Photo Walter Pinion
make you the person you are today?  Have you found that your spiritual strength has helped you stay focused with all the distractions and temptations teens have to face?

Growing up in a family that puts God first, and having a dad that is a minister, has helped mold me into the spiritual person that I am.  God provides me that certain strength and comfort no one can give.  My growth as an athlete and spiritually have definitely worked together to make me the person I am today, but I am like any other regular teenager.  I like to listen to my iPod with my favorite playlist, featuring R&B, rap, pop, and gospel while warming up; however, I always go back to my Bible to read a scripture before every race.

Throughout the journey, I have kept my faith even when times are tough and everything seems like it is falling apart, because I know God will see me through any situation.  Sometimes He allows us to go through certain tests before He unleashes what He has for us.  That is why I always try to never get discouraged, no matter what.  Every time God blesses me, I never hesitate to give Him the glory, and I stay humble because if I do not keep a humble attitude, I will not be blessed. 

My spiritual strength has helped me stay focused with all the distractions and temptations teens have to face.  My favorite scripture is: "I know your works.  See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word and have not denied My name." Revelation 3:8.

9) Finally, as you look toward your life as a student-athlete in college and beyond, what do you see as the most important things you need to stay focused on and improve on, to achieve your ultimate goals, both in track and school?

I need to continue to improve both my strengths and weaknesses, stay focused, keep my priorities straight, and learn to master time management.

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