Aug. 28, 2008
It's been quite a ride. I've tried to do my best to keep you up on what we've been doing, but once competition started, the staff's full attention was on the athletes. That said, this was one of the most unbelievable experiences of my life. I got to tell you about our trip over and the way people reacted to the U.S. athletes, and it really didn't stop throughout the whole games. The fans were great not only to the Americans, but to all of the athletes, but you could feel something special about representing the United States.
The competition was fierce. One of the things about the Olympics is it is the Super Bowl for these athletes, but it only happens once every four years. So, the highs are really high, but the lows are really low. There were some amazing performances and, obviously, there were some athletes who would have liked to perform better, but that is the nature of this competition.
Despite the media highlighting some of the lower points for the American team, the event as a whole was a huge success. The men's team led the medal count for track and field and also came away with the most gold medals. We swept the 400 meters and the 400-meter hurdles, which was really neat. There is nothing like hearing your National Anthem played and looking at the podium to see three of your countrymen on the stand. Those were two of the better moments at the Olympics for me.
I was really proud of our athletes. There was some negativity surrounding the team because of the media's focus on some of the performances, but the group battled each time they stepped to the line. I wasn't sure how the team as a whole would react, but they did a good job of blocking a lot of that stuff out and competing. We talk a lot about competing and beating the next person when it comes to track and field and that is what the American team did. They beat a lot of people. I'm very proud to have been a part of it and it is definitely something I'll never forget.
By the time I left, I felt like China was home. I had been over there for so long that the newness of things kind of left and I had really gotten comfortable with the surroundings. But, I'm glad to be back in Texas and see all of the people that helped me get to the point of being the Olympic coach. Now, it is time for me to turn my attention back to The University of Texas.
While we were in Beijing, one of our assistant coaches, Jason Vigilante, took the head coaching job at Virginia. We wish him nothing but success there and hope that his experience here at Texas will serve him well as he moves forward. But, we must also move forward and I'm in the process of trying to find his replacement.
We had our first team meeting the other day and I could tell the guys were excited to get started. This time of year is really fun for a coach. You have the guys you've been with for a few years, who know the deal, and a bunch of fresh faces, who aren't exactly sure what is going on. It is my job as a coach to get them settled in and ready to work, both in the classroom and on the track. I'm looking forward to seeing how this team comes together and I'm excited for another year of competition here at Texas.
The guys before them have set a high standard. Texas is the only program in the country that has finished in the Top 20 at the national meet in cross country, indoor and outdoor track over the last three years and we're looking to continue that streak, so it should be a good year.
I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support of the United States team while we were over in China and for their support of the Texas program. It means a lot to us.