Now in his 28th season of coaching track and field, Texas Tech University (TTU) Coach Wes Kittley has trained nearly two dozen Olympic athletes, 12 while he was at Abilene Christian University (in Suddenlink-served Abilene, Texas) and 11 at TTU, located in Suddenlink-served Lubbock, Texas. Though he won’t be able to attend the London Games, he will be communicating with and long-distance coaching seven athletes who competed for TTU’s Red Raiders — discus thrower Jason Young (competing for Team USA), hurdler Shane Brathwaite (Barbados), long- and middle-distance runner Sally Kipyego (Kenya), sprinter Shereefa Lloyd (Jamaica), hurdler Jamele Mason (Puerto Rico), and sprinters Michael Mathieu and Andrae Williams (Bahamas).
The TTU contingent is scheduled to compete Aug. 3 through Aug. 11.
On paper, Kipyego, Mathieu and Williams have the best chances to medal. Discus thrower Young could too “if he has his best day,” said Kittley.
His advice to his athletes is simple: “Don’t get caught up in the aura and excitement of the Olympics,” he said. “Enjoy it, but stay focused on what you’ve got to do to get the job done.”
When his athletes aren’t training and competing, Kittley strongly encourages them to embrace the experience by enjoying the competition that only the Olympic Games can provide. “I love the whole atmosphere,” he said. “It’s really special when you can see all the world’s best athletes compete in their sports.”
Kittley is certain one of the highlights will be the Opening Ceremony. He experienced it firsthand at the 2004 Games in Athens. “It was phenomenal,” he said. “The fireworks and pageantry make for an atmosphere second to none. There’s tremendous camaraderie among everyone who has gathered for peaceful competition, and it’s always a thrill to see which athlete brings in the torch to light the Olympic flame.”
The only time he’d recommend an athlete skip the Opening Ceremony is if they are competing the next day. The ceremony requires participants to be on their feet for up to five hours.
On the home front, Texas Tech’s track and field program continued its tradition of combining outstanding performance on the track with achievement in the classroom. This season 22 Red Raiders won All-America honors and seven earned All-Academic honors.