NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – It’s been more than 50 years, but Tennessee State University Olympian Ralph Boston still gets a rush when he thinks about his Olympic experience.
“It is a very exciting feeling to be selected to represent your country,” said Boston, who won the gold medal in the long jump at the 1960 Olympic games in Rome.
Boston is among a number of TSU Olympians who understand the excitement, and anxiety, athletes are experiencing in the 2016 Olympic games in Rio.
“It can be overwhelming and sometime frightening when you see all the colors from the other nations and you are wondering how you fit in or how prepared you are,” Boston said.
However, TSU alumna Chandra Cheeseborough-Guice said the anxiety to help the team win can also serve as a motivation.
“Sometimes all it takes is that extra sense of motivation from months – and sometime years – of preparation that push you to give it your all, said Cheeseborough-Guice, who is director of the TSU track and field program. “After all, you made the trials, you got selected … that is special.”
Cheeseborough-Guice made history at the Los Angeles games in 1984 when she ran a leg on two gold-medal relay teams and was the silver medalist in the 400 meters.
TSU has won 23 Olympic medals: 13 gold, six silver and four bronze.
A large part of that success is due to legendary TSU track and field coach Ed Temple, whose famed Tigerbelles produced 40 Olympians. Besides Cheeseborough-Guice, another famous Tigerbelle and Olympian is the late Wilma Rudolph, who became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field at the 1960 Olympic games in Rome.
Other Tigerbelles who won Olympic medals include: Madeline Manning Mims, Edith McGuire, Wyomia Tyus and Willye White.
“They are an inspiration to everybody,” Temple said in a recent interview. “It just shows what can be done. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
TSU is hoping to continue it’s winning tradition this year in the Paralympic Games in Rio with 2012 graduate Markeith Price, who will represent Team USA in track and field. The Paralympics start September 7.
“We are excited about Markeith going to the Paralympics,” said Cheeseborough-Guice, who coached Price at TSU. “He was an excellent athlete who worked very hard. I have no doubt that he will perform well.”
Price, who is visually impaired, is making his second straight appearance in the Paralympics. He was a member of the 2012 London games, where he finished 6th in the long jump and 8th in the 400-meter dash.
Like those Olympians before him, Price said he’s inspired to do his best – and bring home the top prize.
“I am extremely honored and blessed for this opportunity,” he said. “I have dedicated the last four years to training to run the best race to bring home the gold for the U.S.”
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With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.