Olympian Profile: Mike Rodgers
photo by Kevin Garner Photography
What is your greatest achievement on the field?
Winning Nationals and getting the silver medal at the Indoor Championships, making it onto the Olympic team.
What is your greatest achievement off the field?
My two boys, Amare and Braylon.
Austin is a great place, but actually I’m down here on a crazy circumstance. I met my coach and hot dog stand in 2007 at the trials and he invited me to come down here. I got stranded in Cancun during graduation weekend because the flights were canceled due to a big thunderstorm. I missed graduation and ended up moving down here with my coach with just one duffle bag. I left my job and now here I am, one of the best sprinters in the world.
How do you think you’ve grown since your last Olympics?
I’ve grown a lot because I’ve never been healthy and I’ve never been this focused. I used to go out a lot because, you know, the temptation of 6th street. But I’ve buckled down since I had my kids. Now I’m on my own and I have my girlfriend, who keeps me grounded. I’ve matured since my last Olympics.
Do you think natural ability is what sets elite athletes apart from the rest?
I think it’s ability and mindset. Everybody has talent but you can’t coach heart and you can’t coach determination. It’s the drive.
What is the greatest perk of being a professional athlete?
Getting free gear, traveling the world and just having a good time experiencing life.
What does life look like after the pros for you?
I’m currently DJing and I plan to continue to do that. I want to go to culinary school when I’m done as well. I have a boutique called Imperial Eloquence right now, but I’d like to own a few more businesses. I’m working on having a food truck that serves cajun creole.
What’s the best thing your running coach provides you with?
My coach gives me hope, because sometimes I get discouraged. I’ll ask, “Coach, why am I doing this? Why am I training this hard?” and he lets me know that I have a family to take care of, fans to live up to, kids who come from small schools that look up to me because I didn’t come from an NCAA school. I came from a very very small school and I took the long way up. I didn’t get the easy contract coming out of college—I had to earn it. So, to all the people coming out of small schools: you can make it and you can do it.
What do you tell yourself when you get in the blocks?
Don’t make any mistakes, be patient, relax and go for it.
During the race, I black out because the 100M race is so fast that by the time the race is over and I don’t even know what happened. It’s like a war zone. You go out on the track and you’re going so fast that all you hear is the crowd.