Still dreaming big: Goodman focused on Olympic goals as run at U.S. Trials begins today
By CHRIS GOLTERMANN
It didn’t take long for the surroundings of this year’s Olympic Trials to catch up with Chalonda Goodman on the eve of the first of the University of Texas junior’s two attempts this month to reach the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Standing on the same track at historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon where she won gold at the U.S. Junior Olympics in 2004 and see personal bests in the 100 and 200 at the Pan Am Junior qualifiers, Goodman soaked in the site of this year’s U.S. Track & Field Trials knowing she had achieved an opportunity to fulfill lifelong ambitions that began as a little girl in Newnan, Georgia.
“It feels good. I’m excited to have the opportunity to compete at the trials,” she said following Thursday’s workout in preparation for today’s 100-meter event. Just warming up and seeing the signs that say U.S. Olympic Trials. To me, this is what I’ve dreamed about since I was seven years old watching the  Olympic Games on television. This is what I’ve been working so hard for this whole time, to be an Olympic gold medal winner. That passion just thrives with me.”
Tonight’s 100-meter event is the first of two events where Goodman has a chance to make an impression. Preliminaries are set to begin at 9 p.m. Eastern time with TV coverage on NBC Sports Network, with Goodman running in the second of five heats out of Lane 2.
She earned a berth in the trials after having an accepted time of 11.34 during the Big 12 Championships and is one of only seven current collegiate sprinters among a field of 37 runners. Goodman, however, ran a record time of 11.17 in 2009 at Hayward Field during the Pan Am Games and the track has remained one of her favorites.
“I love this track,” said Goodman, who went on to win three golds at the 2009 Pan Am Juniors after setting personal bests in the qualifiers at Hayward. “I have so many memories from competing here. It’s such an amazing crowd to be around.”
The effort was a continuation of her dominance at Newnan High, where she became an unprecedented eight-time state champion while sweeping the 100 and 200 at the Georgia High School Association State Championships in all four varsity seasons. After arriving at Texas, however, Goodman was been forced to overcome a pair of setbacks as a freshman, including an Achilles injury. She’s coming off her first full year of competition in Austin, which allowed her to start the spring with impressive times of 11.23 in the 100 and 22.8 in the 200 en route to helping the Longhorns win a Big 12 Outdoor Championship.
“The biggest change with myself between high school and college is that I’ve been able to grow both mentally and spiritually. I’ve learned through perseverance. It challenged me,” she said. “
I’m the type of person now that when things happen, I know they happen for a reason I don’t always understand. It doesn’t matter that I don’t understand. I just know I’m going to make it through and come out a better person and learn something from it and grow from it.
Goodman has also been able to put behind some of the disappointment from this month’s NCAA Championships. After qualifying in both events in addition to anchoring the 400-relay for the Texas women’s team, she was unable to reach this year’s national finals in Des Moines, with times that were well off her top times from earlier in the spring.
“That’s all in the past. It’s disappointing that I wasn’t able to make the finals, but I’ve put that behind me,” she said. “It’s still been a fun year and I’m excited about my future. I’m a whole different person and I know what I capable of doing. I hoping to play an even bigger role for my teammates next year.”
Up first, however, is an opportunity to turn longtime dreams into reality.
“Right now, with these trials I’m going to go out there and do my best,” she said. “Great things always seem to happen here.”