The bible of the sport — Track & Field News — has been publishing past interviews with track & field stars for quite some time now and the latest is a 2006 conversation between TF&N’s Sieg Lindstrom and three-time Olympic shot putter Adam Nelson, who was a star at Dartmouth College.
You should give the whole piece a read, but one answer that caught my eye was Nelson’s response to: “When did you first think you could compete at this level?”
I had a great experience with my college coach, Carl Wallin. He’s been a mentor and a coach and just a constant source of advice and inspiration for me for years. But when I was in college, I think maybe my sophomore or junior year — probably when I got in trouble for something nonathletic or academics related — he said, “Adam, you’re screwing things up here. You’ve got a real good chance of doing something post-collegiately. Just don’t get hurt; don’t mess up your life.” He said, “From the ages of 18–25 guys are stupid. You have a real gift here and I really think you can do something after college.” He just kind of reinforced that my last couple years of college, and after my last term of eligibility in the winter of ’98, he said, “I really think you should do this for 2 or 3 more years.
Wallin may have been off by a decade or so, but his message surely hit home.