Carlette Guidry Falkquay to be recognized at this year's Texas Relays
March 29, 2011
Ryan Graney, Texas Media Relations
Each spring, thousands gather in Austin, Texas for the annual running of the Texas Relays. For the better part of a century, athletes from across the United States have treated the perennial sellout crowds at the Relays to jaw-dropping performances and electrifying competition. The four-day event has hosted Olympic medalists, world champions, and national champions. Among those is Olympic Gold Medalist and world champion Carlette Guidry Falkquay.
The former University of Texas athlete is the most decorated women's college track and field athlete of all-time. Competing collegiately from 1987-91, Falkquay totaled 12 total NCAA titles and 23 All-America honors and was named the Southwest Conference Athlete of the Decade for the 1980s.
For her unrivaled accomplishments, the Texas Relays will honor the 17-time All-Southwest Conference selection at this year's installment of the meet.
While she holds numerous awards and has been recognized by nearly every track and field organization in the country, being honored at the Texas Relays is especially meaningful to Falkquay. For so many athletes across the state of Texas, the Relays represent some of their fondest memories. To be recognized at such an event is a special feeling for Falkquay.
"It's really exciting to be able to come back and be honored for something that I did so many years ago," Falkquay said. "It feels so long ago. It's real exciting."
Though she won the 1990 and 1991 100-meter titles at the Texas Relays, Falkquay remembers the team aspect of the event. One year in particular, her sophomore season, Falkquay recalls coming together with her teammates and winning multiple relay titles.
"I think a big memory is that I had a lot of friends on the team competing at the Relays," Falkquay said." We were able to run two sprinters and two quarter milers. We competed on four relays and we won all of them. That was really exciting to come together and be able to do that."
After her collegiate career at Texas, Falkquay amassed numerous national and international titles competing for the United States. Running in nearly every competition imaginable Falkquay has competed on the world's greatest stage. When asked about her Olympic and World Championship memories her first recollection was not the competition itself. Rather, Falkquay fondly remembers being exposed to an array of cultures.
"I think what's exciting about that was the culture and the learning experience," she said. "Having all those cultures come together representing athletes from all over the world, relating to them and seeing the world was great. Being in that environment allowed me to achieve so many things and see so many cultures. You really see that everyone across the world is the same."
The Houston native holds two Olympic Gold Medals for her participation in the 4x100-meter relays in 1992 in Barcelona, Spain and 1996 in Atlanta. Understanding her place in history, Falkquay was humbled by the honor.
"That was very exciting in the aspect of that it was something I worked so hard for since I was a little girl," Falkquay said. "I remembered watching Wilma Rudolph running in the Olympics and her story of overcoming polio and seeing her go to the Olympics and win gold medals. Going to the Olympics in '92, I was pretty young. Winning the relay and running in the last relays that Evelyn Ashford ran on, she actually started that relay out. Winning that kind of makes you in awe. I made these goals a long time ago and I was able to achieve that."
With her many accolades and championships, the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays remain one of Falkquay's favorite competitions. Returning each year to Myers Stadium, she rekindles many of her friendships and rivalries from her time competing.
"It's rewarding to see the younger athletes, especially the younger athletes from UT coming out and blazing the track," Falkquay said. "It's funny in the stands you may have athletes from Texas A&M, U of H, some of the old Southwest conference and ex-athletes from LSU. We still have a rivalry in the stands. We still have that competitive edge. We're not out on the track but we're up there talking rooting for our teams. It's very exciting to see them get out there and run. We still have those bragging rights so to speak. That's where I get my excitement from now."
Now a mother, the Texas Relays are meaningful for another reason to Falkquay.
"I have a daughter that I bring to the Relays now and get her watching and seeing what it's like," Falkquay said. "It shows her that if you train hard this is what the outcome is. This is the fun part. You're out there running races and competing against each other."
After a track and field career that may never be matched in terms of championships and accolades, it was only a matter of time that a native Texan like Carlette Guidry Falkquay would be honored at the state's premier meet. For Falkquay, the honor is as meaningful as ever.
"I have so many memories from the Texas Relays," Falkquay said. "I'm so honored to be a part of it this year."