RICHMOND, Ky. – Former Eastern Kentucky University sprinter Dallas Robinson will compete at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia as a member of the U.S. Bobsled Team. Robinson wrapped up a decorated sprints career at EKU in the spring of 2005.
The native of Crestwood, Ky. won six individual Ohio Valley Conference titles (two in the indoor 60 meters, one in the indoor 200 meters, one in the outdoor 100 meters and two in the outdoor 200 meters), broke the EKU record in the indoor 200 meters (21.35) and was named the 2005 OVC Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year. So, how – nearly nine years after leaving EKU as one of the most decorated track athletes in school history – is Dallas Robinson competing in the Olympics … on a bobsled team?
Robinson’s journey from sprinter to Olympic Bobsledder began with a conversation he had when he was the track coach at Berea College in 2010. One of Robinson’s student-athletes at Berea, Phil Miller, approached him to talk about post-graduation plans.
“Phil Miller and I had the old ‘What do you want to do with your life when you graduate?’ discussion,” Robinson said. “He confided in me that he always dreamed of being a Team USA athlete. After some research I found a tryout location for the U.S. Bobsled team. Phil tried out for the team and made a lower-level developmental team under the driver John Bagley in Park City, Utah. He moved to Utah, and his journey as a bobsledder began.”
Little did Robinson know his own journey as a bobsledder was about to take off.
“Phil and I stayed in touch on a weekly basis, talking about workouts, life, etc.,” Robinson said. “As the season approached, Phil and his team discovered they were going to get to race a single race in the America’s Cup Circuit in Park City … however, they were down an athlete.”
Miller nominated his old track coach, Robinson, who was still running world-class 100 meters times at summer meets. Miller and Bagley contacted Robinson about the vacancy, but Robinson’s answer was “thanks, but no thanks.” “I don’t like heights, cold weather, traveling … and I just can’t,” Robinson said.
However, he soon had a change of heart. “I remembered telling my kids that I coach – over and over – that if they ever needed anything aside from track training to just let me know and I would do anything I could to help them,” Robinson said. “Looking at that opportunity, I thought ‘how better else to show my student-athletes I mean what I say and I love them than to make this leap of faith.’”
So, Robinson went to Park City and “as expected, I didn’t like any of it,” he said. “But, somehow – four years later – I am a week away from heading to Sochi, Russia as a representative of the United States of America!”
He might not have liked bobsledding, but he was clearly a natural at it. The same size – 6-4, 230 pounds – that worked against Robinson on the track helped him as bobsled athlete, and he quickly ascended the ranks to Olympic caliber. In Sochi, Robinson will serve as a push athlete on driver Nick Cunningham’s USA-2 four-man sled.
Robinson’s bobsledding career has afforded him the opportunity to visit places such as Austria, Canada, Germany, Russia, France and Switzerland, and see such things as “ancient castles, the top of the Swiss Alps and vineyards in the French countryside.”
However, he has not forgotten home. “Everyone who knows me on tour – from the Germans to the Canadians – has had me try and convince them to come to Kentucky and visit. I tell them ‘There is no place more beautiful and I am certain once you come you will never leave!’ I am very proud to be a Kentuckian. I pray that I make everyone proud through my faith, actions and efforts in the upcoming Olympics.”