As the Olympics remains popularized every year, creating past and present household names, one past household name is Kevin Young, an Olympian gold medalist of 1988 and 1992, 400-meter hurdles event. This month, Young celebrates 25 years since his undaunted accomplishment.
“I feel great because of the accomplishment,” said Young. “My story alone speaks volumes of my personal achievement.”
His story begins in Watts, Los Angeles and living in the home of Olympic legend, Edwin Moses’ relative. Like many people, Young has endured many struggles.
Young explained, “My biggest struggle was trying not to be victimized growing up in Watts in the 80s, with all the gang proliferation; keeping a clear head away from the dope game, and police brutality.”
Instead of emphasizing these conflicts, he looked to sports as his outlet and many might believe that Young’s first outlet was Track.
“First it was basketball,” Young said, “skill set I was better in track.”
At the time, Young was denied playing time by the basketball coach, which effected his disposition. Track offered him the opportunity to express and learn through development.
For motivation, he often looked to reading about the 1968 Olympic team and viewing photos of Ron Freeman, Larry James, Vinny Matthews, and Lee Evans.
After his success in the Olympics, Young received positive reactions.
“Friends and family were ecstatic,” Young described. While receiving positive attention, he faced negative attention, as well.
“Accusations of drugs. But those were from individuals who could not contemplate goal setting and mental programming,” said Young.
He continued to compete briefly after the Olympic, but he soon faced a permanent adversity.
“Due to a [knee] injury, I had fallen off.”
Young believed he would recover from it and was upset based on the sequence of events that led to his injury.
“I was expecting to [receive] new spikes from a sponsor, but did not receive them in a timely manner and went out to train in shoes that lacked support. And over the years my knee got worst,” explained Young.
Although, he feels accomplished career-wise and has some last leading advice for future African-American athletes.
“Know the struggles of other African-American Olympians. This gives perspective.”
Not only is his story inspiring, but Young hopes his story encourages the younger generation that there are many ways to break boundaries and that help is always available