LAWRENCE (KSNT) – Christina Clemons made herself a household name during this year’s Olympic track and field trials.
“I knew going into that race that I was going to Tokyo,” Clemons said. “I mean, there was no way I was not going to Tokyo.”
A Jayhawk track coach, Clemons is one of multiple members of the KU Athletics family going to the Olympics.
“This is something that I’ve been wanting forever,” Clemons said. “You know, as a kid you think about this when you run track.”
She finished third in the 100m hurdle with a time of 12.53 seconds to earn her spot. But, her journey to the Olympics wasn’t as simple as one race. She failed to qualify in 2012 and 2016, rupturing her Achilles in between.
“In ‘16, I was still trying to come back from the injury,” she said. “I didn’t even make the finals.”
She credits a lot of her recent success to her coach, Garfield Ellenwood.
“He knows what he’s doing, and we trust each other,” Clemons said. “I was able to live here with my husband and my coach lives in Alabama. He wasn’t trying to force me to be there because he knows me as an athlete. I’m going to get done whatever I need to get done, and that is what was important to me.”
Her husband, Kyle Clemons, is a former KU track athlete. He went the Rio Olympics in 2016.
“He knows all of the feels and everything like that, so he was really able to talk me through a lot of things,” she said.
Clemons’ speed and determination made her a force on the track, and her Dorito earrings brought that notoriety to social media.
“Anybody who knows me knows that I’m going to wear whatever I feel like wearing at the line,” Clemons said. “I was like, ‘these match my uniform so well.’”
Christina’s first race is July 31. Until then, she will be working on getting faster.
“I time every single movement that I make,” she said.
And maybe buy some more earrings.