2012 Olympic gold medalist Sonya Richards-Ross shared her experiences with NSU students, faculty, and community members on Oct. 23 at the Rose and Alfred Miniaci Performing Arts Center, as part of the “Life 101 … Personally Speaking” series.
Prior to the event, the NSU Office of Student Affairs Special Events and Projects held a VIP reception where NSU students, mostly track and field athletes spoke and took pictures with Richards-Ross.
Brittany Todaro, sophomore athletic training major and a pole vaulter for the track team, said, “It’s great meeting an Olympian, because she is someone that students and athletes can look up to.”
During the event, Richards-Ross talked about her love for the sport of track and field, her time at the summer Olympics, and what the future holds for her career.
For Richards-Ross, the aspirations of Olympic gold came at a young age. She said that at the age of 9, she wrote a note to her teacher saying that she was going to become an Olympic gold medalist. At the age of 12, she and her family moved from Jamaica to Florida, where Ross attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School.
In high school, Richards-Ross had to find a balance between running and academics. “I was always equally competitive on the track as I was in academics,” she said.
In 2004, as a sophomore in college, Richards-Ross earned a spot on her first U.S. Olympic team.
Richards-Ross said, “It was an incredible feeling being in Athens, the birth place of the Olympics, and having that be my birth at the Olympics.”
In 2007, Richards-Ross said that she faced one of the toughest times in her career. She started feeling joint pain and fatigue, and had skin lesions on her body. After visiting a handful of doctors, Ross was diagnosed with Behcet’s Disease — a rare chronic disorder that causes skin inflammation, only to find out five years later that she had been misdiagnosed.
Disappointment also came in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when Richards-Ross won the bronze medal.
Richards-Ross said, “Everyone was saying I won the bronze, but I didn’t feel that way. I felt I had prepared for the gold, but lost the race.”
Entering the 2012 London Olympics, Richards-Ross said that she was set on the gold medal. She won two gold medals, one in the individual 400-meter race and one as a member of the 4×400-meter relay team.
Looking into the near future, Richards-Ross hopes to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Richards-Ross said, “The thing that keeps me going is my desire to be the best and always win. I love pushing myself to see how great I can be. There is a lot that goes into it, but if I can, I really want to be there.”
The Life 101 event concluded with an autograph session in the lobby outside the auditorium.
Luis Felipe Perez, junior biology major, said, “She seems like a cool person, and I enjoyed hearing from someone that has been so accomplished in her career.”
Dr. Brad Williams, vice president of Student Affairs, said, “Part of what makes this series successful is allowing students to hear about what a person has accomplished and using it as a model to be successful in their own lives.”