Woman behind the medal: Diamond Dixon

LAWRENCE, Kan. – See it. Believe it. Achieve it.
Former Kansas Track and Field star Diamond Dixon has always had a vision of what she wanted to accomplish on the track and off. Through hard work, perseverance, belief in herself and reminders from her vision door, Dixon achieved greatness at the elite level – both collegiately and on the international stage. 
It all started in high school when Dixon saw the NCAA Track and Field Championship on television and thought that it might be fun to run.
“I thought whatever those girls are doing that looks like fun, I need to go do that,” Dixon said of seeing the NCAA Championship on TV. “I was also noticed at my school, an assistant track coach told me I had to be a runner and asked if I was going out for the track team. I said no at the time, but after I saw the NCAA meet I knew I wanted to do that.”

Once she saw it. Dixon believed that it was the sport for her.

It was evident that Dixon had talent and she knew that she was fast, but reminders helped her continue to chase her dreams. Those reminders came in the form of her own take of a vision board.

Since high school, Dixon has covered the back of her bedroom door with goals, dreams and motivation.

I always put my time goals up. I always put state champion, because at the time, in high school, you want to be a state champion,” said Dixon of her door in high school. “I had the Olympic rings all over the door; it took me forever to do that actually. My aunt asked me why I was using all of her construction paper and I told her that I was doing something that was really important, that I was decorating my door.”

It was important and helped Dixon reach numerous milestones before she even stepped foot on campus in Lawrence.

Lettering in Track and Field at Westside High School in Houston, Texas, Dixon claimed not one, but two state champion medals in the 400m. She holds the Wolves’ records in 400m, 300 hurdles and two mile.

Dixon achieved a number of dreams that she spent countless hours decorating on the back of her door, but she wasn’t done yet. She had more to do and the next step was finding a college that would help her finish the list of goals she had for herself.

“I can say coach (Stanley) Redwine had a lot to do with it,” said Dixon of her decision to come to Kansas. “I knew I could go to any school and do what I’m supposed to do, but I have to have a coach that believes in me.”

In her first season, Dixon earned All-America honors and was off to a great college career with Redwine and the Jayhawks. Dixon was crowned the Big 12 Champion in the 400m, finishing in a time of 51.55 at the conference meet.

“The main choice to be successful is to combine the image in your mind with feeling. Because in my experience, sometimes I had a negative image in my mind; regardless of what I put on my door, I had a negative image in my mind and I would step on the track in fear,” Dixon said. “Most days that I did that, I did not run well. Most of the days I knew I was going to win and I pictured it in my head, I went out there and did it. I can say at Big 12’s my freshman year, I was so focused on winning, I literally had a dream I won and then the next thing I knew I was out there beating (Texas Tech All-American) Jessica Beard, giving coach Redwine a thumbs up.”

She came into college reaching for several goals, and with coach Redwine’s help she claimed another one after earning her first National Championship in the 400m at the 2012 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship. Dixon continued to achieve goals that were decorated on the back of her door and the National Championship as a sophomore continued her journey.

“It took a lot of hard work, but it paid off in the end,” Dixon said of the National Championship. “I was excited, elated to have the seventh-fastest time in the world. To hear that behind my name, it was worth the journey, the hard work, the crying, thinking I’m not good enough then thinking I am good enough and then being good enough.”

With a state championship and a national championship to her name, Dixon had one more goal to complete from her vision door. It was that one goal that took the longest to create that Dixon was still working towards – the Olympics.

As a high schooler when I went down to visit her, her dream was to make the Olympic team,” Redwine recalled. “That was never shocking to me. I said if that’s what she wanted to do, this is what it was going to take and she accepted it. I thought that was a mature statement in itself and to actually put the hard work in, that’s another thing.”

Dixon’s hard work paid off following her sophomore campaign when she qualified for the Olympic Trials and then made the U.S. Olympic Team for the 2012 Games in London.

“Running each round in Trials, like it was my last chance, that was a big part of that,” Dixon said. “The biggest moment of the Olympics was definitely running. I’ll never forget how my legs felt on the track or how I felt after. I was ready to go again. It was a great experience; it’s really hard to put into words and it’s something I’ll be able to take with me forever.”

Dixon didn’t just make the team in 2012, she helped the 4x400m relay win a Gold Medal after running the third leg in the semifinal round.   

“It was really good to watch her preparation and to know that when she stepped on the line, she was ready to go,” Redwine said of Dixon’s Olympic race. “That’s what it really came down to. It was kind of nerve-racking for me because she’s putting her dreams in my hand, so I wanted to make sure she was prepared and ready to go.”

Even though her door was complete, Dixon didn’t stop there. She returned from London and went back to work with the Jayhawks. In 2013, she helped Kansas win its first-ever women’s Track and Field National Championship. With her individual national title in 2012 and her team title a year later, Dixon concluded her running career in the Crimson and Blue with more hardware than she envisioned on her door.

Looking back over the years, Dixon is proud of the victories she’s achieved that were decorated on her door, but knows there is more to come.

Whatever I see in my mind, I can hold in my hand,” Dixon says of accomplishing her goals. “It says that in anything that I do, that’s what I think about. It says I’m a believer, I have faith.”

No matter the decade, Jayhawks are making their mark on history in competition, in the community and in life. Dixon is one example of Kansas student-athletes past, present and future leaving their footprints in the history books.
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