By Olivia Kim, Associate Online Editor In Chief
An enormous crowd, an extreme competition, and immense expectations are anticipated by Prospect Alumni David Kendziera (class of 2013) for the 2020 Olympic trials.
Kendziera qualified for the chance to join team USA for the 2020 Japan Summer Olympics on July 27 this year. He met a faster time than the qualifying standard of 48.9 seconds with a time of 48.69 seconds for the 400 meter hurdles.
However, this isn’t the first time Kendziera has qualified for the Olympic Trials. Kendziera had qualified for the 2016 Olympic trials during his enrollment at University of Illinois even though he hadn’t participated in the 2016 season due to injuries. His high achievement of placing third for the 400 meter hurdles at the NCAA championships in 2015 allowed him to get a spot with the other 2016 Olympic trial qualifiers. The trials concluded with Kendziera making it to the semifinals, placing 15th.
Kendziera wasn’t able to perform at his very best in 2016 because of his injuries prior to the trials, preventing him from preparing as much in advance as he would have wished for.
Kendziera had a few injuries throughout this recent season. Each injury would take him out from practice for about a week along with its own bouts of mental stress.
“[When you have an injury] you just start thinking of the worst,” Kendziera said. “During a competition you have to push your body to 100 percent. You just have it in the back of you mind that something could go wrong at any time.”
But Kendziera holds faith in his training, his coach, and himself to move forward. He has learned to stick to strong training plans for improvements.
This year’s training consists mostly of a focus on speed. In the past, he had focused on multiple events such as the 110 meter and the 4×400 meter relay. Now, he is focused solely on the 400 meter hurdles with a goal of just getting faster.
He will start his training program in mid October and then will be starting an off season workout leading up to indoor meets and 400 meter hurdle races by April. He is planning for some international meets and hopes to run in a Japanese circuit to get a feel for running in Japan.
Other accomplishments of Kendziera include being a four time NCAA Medalist, the 2017 Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year, the 2017 Big Ten 400 meter hurdles champion, first place in the 400 meter hurdles at the Drake Relays, and the Illinois 400 meter hurdles record holder with the time of 48.42 seconds.
To Kendziera, the people around him have been the biggest influences in his life and track career.
“People you surround yourself with in high school and even in college, [help you to] be able to motivate each other, push each other, and want the best for each other,” Kendziera said. “That definitely had a huge impact on where I was able to go.”
One of the biggest influences in Kendziera’s track career was his track coach from Prospect Michael Kamedula, who is now a physical education teacher at Wheeling High School. Kamedula was a major influence and guide that led Kendziera through choosing colleges and to developing his passion for track.
Kendziera will also rely on his mindset to progress through training in preparation for the trials which will be between June 19 and 28 next year.
“[I’ve learned] to not put limits on myself,” Kendziera said. “Always push the limits and see what you can achieve in your specific field… whether it’s school, life, or athletics.”