Daytime Financial Planner, Night-time Sprinter Headed To Olympic Trials
June 19, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. --- By day, former Bulldog All-American David Dickens, who recently earned his Certified Financial Planner designation, works in his Atlanta office at John Hancock Life Insurance. By night, the Marietta native returns to toil at his passion that made him one of Georgia’s most accomplished sprinters.
In what little spare time he currently has, Dickens, who raced for the Bulldogs from 2004-07, qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 400-meter dash at a UNC-Charlotte “last chance” meet on June 15. Dickens clocked a season-best 45.66 to win his event by a second and a half and be a qualifier for his first Trials, which start on Thursday, June 21 at the University of Oregon in Eugene.
Dickens is scheduled to join Bulldog senior Torrin Lawrence in the first round of the 400 on Friday, at 6:10 p.m. ET. Ironically, Dickens might also be joined at the Trials by a cousin named Brycen Spratling, a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh who is waiting to see if he made the 400 field as well. Spratling owns the American indoor 500 meters record.
After his qualifying race last week, it took a couple seconds for Dickens to soak up what he had just accomplished.
“I was just thankful after I realized what I had run,” Dickens said. “I must have said, ‘thank you God’ at least 20 times. I really didn’t know how fast I had run, I was thinking it was around 47 seconds because it felt pretty smooth and easy. When the time popped up, I just lost it.”
His journey in the professional track and field world has been an interesting one for Dickens. After graduating from UGA, Dickens sought a normal “8-to-5 job” in the financial setting while also still training and running races when time permitted.
And then in March of this year, Dickens scored a job with John Hancock as an Internal Wholesaler who sells and manages 401(k) plans. This job came along after he studied for seven long months to pass his Certified Financial Planner exam, which lasted for 10 hours on two consecutive days.
“It was pretty rough working, studying for my test and trying to find a little time to train and stay in shape,” Dickens said. “But I guess it was all worth it in the end.”
To show Dickens their happiness regarding his recent success, John Hancock quickly agreed to sponsor him during his journey to the Trials, a move that made Dickens “really excited.”
Dickens was a constant threat on the track for the Bulldogs during his career. He set what was the school’s indoor 200 record while earning First Team All-American honors at the 2006 NCAA Indoor Championships. The Wheeler High School graduate returned to pick up his second All-America certificate in the 4x400 relay at the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
His name is no stranger to the Bulldog all-time top-10 lists. Dickens’ name is listed 12 different times in Georgia’s record books, including the current No. 2 spot in the indoor 200 (21.05) and in the outdoor 4x400 relay (3:04.13). In fact, Dickens has been part of four of the 10 fastest outdoor 4x400 relay finishes in school history.
With the start of his new job in March came the continuation of a training schedule that he has battled to keep going since leaving Athens. Dickens started working a 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. schedule five days a week at John Hancock. He would then make the short trip from his office to the track at either The Lovett School or Westminster and started his training at 6:30 or 7 p.m. Dickens’ day on the run would finally conclude as he left the track between 9 and 9:30 p.m. each night.
“Both schools have been great about understanding my situation and letting me continue my workout usually long after the last people have left school,” said Dickens.
On the weekends, Dickens said he usually bounces between home meets at Georgia, Georgia Tech and Auburn, driving up on Saturday mornings before the meet and then back to Atlanta following his events.
This training, which usually includes Dickens holding his own stopwatch as he runs, has been without a coach on site. He gets workouts from his former high school coach, Chris Malcolm, and still regularly communicates with Bulldog sprints coach Jon Stuart.
“I work 45 hours a week so half of the time I don’t want to head out to the track after work,” said Dickens. “But I make myself train with more emotion since I have to motivate myself every day to get better. There’s no one else out there who is pushing me.”
“David is probably the fastest man in the country with an 8-to-5 job,” said Stuart, who will be in Eugene with Dickens, Lawrence and Georgia’s other qualifiers. “He loves track and is a great competitor. He has really overcome some challenges with work and training to reach such a lofty goal. I am extremely proud of David. He truly is a great Bulldog.”
Now, Dickens, who had dropped his time to 46.14 a week before racing in Charlotte, has his provisional “B” cut time in the 400 and a spot at the Olympic Trials.
“I’ve worked so hard for this opportunity, now I just want to make the best out of it,” said Dickens.
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