You might say Nigel Talton’s goal is too ambitious—maybe even impossible—but that’s because you haven’t met him.
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," he says.
The 24-year-old Middle Georgia native is training to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics. He’s been on the road to Rio since his 11th grade year at Peach County High School.
"I remember one meet—one home meet—we had to run the 4 x 400 meter relay, each person run the 400. I remember I walked off the track, because I was like, ‘Man, I’m not running no 400. I’ll do the 100 and the 200, but I’m not doing this.’"
That’s when his mom stepped in.
"She said, ‘Your grandma’s watching. Just run it for your grandma.’"
Nigel’s grandmother passed away when he was in the fifth grade. Hearing those words from his mom served as motivation, but one word his coach used really struck a nerve.
"He kept saying ‘mediocre,’" Nigel says. "’Do you want to be mediocre by quitting and be a coward?’ I was trying to be hard in front of my friends and teammates, but in my head it kind of got to me. I was like, ‘Darn, coach called me a mediocre coward because I quit; I walked off on the team.’
"From that day, that feeling, I didn’t want to feel that any more."
That relay team took home the gold medal that day. Nigel ended up earning a college scholarship, running for Iowa Wesleyan before transferring to Kennesaw State.
After experiencing Junior Nationals, he knew he wanted to run with the big boys in the Olympics.
"I just want to show kids around this area that hard work pays off," he says. "Everybody knows everything about football around here. They don’t know anything about track or any other sport. The main focus around here is football. I just want to show hard work pays off, and that I can make it to the Olympics in 2016.
"My grandma, she’ll be smiling whenever I qualify and probably mimic whatever I do when I cross the finish line."
Nigel’s main focus will be qualifying for the 100-meter race, but he also wants to try for the 200.
His outdoor season starts in April. If he runs a fast enough time during that season, he’ll be eligible for the U.S. qualifier in Oregon next July, where he’ll need to finish in the top six to qualify for Rio.
If you’d like to help him out, visit his GoFundMe page.
The 2016 Summer Olympics will be held August 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.