Catching Up With Professional Hurdler & Former Bulldog LaRon Bennett
LaRon "Bud" Bennett recently competed in his third consecutive Olympic Trials.

LaRon "Bud" Bennett recently competed in his third consecutive Olympic Trials.
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July 3, 2012

LaRon Bennett, who finished his Georgia track career in 2005, has traveled around the world to compete in professional races since finishing his Bulldog career.  His first win in the professional ranks came at the International Consulate Meeting of Martinique in Fort de France, Martinique, where he finished the 400-meter hurdles in 49.43 in 2009. 

Bennett recently advanced to the 400 hurdle semifinals at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., taking 11th in that round with a 50.48.  This marked his third trip to the Trials after reaching the finals in 2008 and 2004.

While wearing red and black, Bennett set the school record in the 400 hurdles after clocking a 48.74 at the 2005 NCAA Outdoor Championships for a fifth-place finish.  Bennett, who was a three-time outdoor All-American, was also the runner-up in the 2005 SEC Outdoor Championships with a 48.76.

Here is his latest journal entry for georgiadogs.com detailing the current state of his career:

“To all my friends, family, teammates, coaches, and supporters; each of you have impacted my career in some way.  So, to you, I give special thanks.  To show my appreciation, I will take you through my final journal:

The time has finally come.  June 28th, 2012, is two days away and I will compete in the first round of my third Olympic Trials.  I remember my first Trials like it was yesterday; young, sophomore in college, and scared to death to be running against legends.  I would go on to finish seventh, but that would jump-start a journey of school records, person bests, USA teams, gold medals, world traveling, and life-long friends.  I built a resume that many would gladly trade theirs for, but one thing was missing – a trip to the Olympics.  This was my goal 13 years ago and was the driving force, besides my faith, that kept my mindset unwavering and kept my commitment to keep going year after year.  I went on to compete at the 2008 Olympic Trials, only to yet again come short of my final goal and finish eighth.  On that day, I walked off the track, completely heart-broken, but vowing to keep going.  I can’t explain this driving force.  It’s been in me since I was young and it’s why I made it this far.

Here I am today, two days before I will attempt to complete my legacy and make, ‘The Team’.  After getting settled in my hotel, I head over to the track for a shake out.  When I arrive to the track, all the memories, anxiety, pain comes flooding back.  I block it out and start my warm-up.  My warm-up goes great and I feel ready.  Despite having a spring season filled with slow times, countless hours of side jobs, and new parenthood, I feel ready.

It is June 28th and the day has come.  I have to run round one of three and after checking the start list, I’m in lane eight.  I also have Bershawn Jackson (ranked #1 in the world) in the lane behind me.  After doing my morning jog, I go and eat breakfast and have my personal bible study.  During my study, I come across a phrase, ‘God’s Grace’ and I begin thinking about what this truly meant.  Often times we speak of His grace as a way of helping us get out of a situation or preventing a situation; true, but there is a deeper revelation to it.  After reading 2nd Corinthians 12:9, “…My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”  This was God’s way of telling Paul that His grace was a [tool] to help him go through the situation he was in.  Often times we pray for God to bring us out of situations when He would rather us pray to give us strength to go through a situation.  This would be so that we can grow and get stronger.  This was the key; this was what I needed to make my first Olympic Team.

I get to the track and I realize that the day has finally come.  I have a great warm-up and we finally called to the holding tent.  I’m in the second heat, so I have time to hear the roars of the crowd as first heat runs.  Then my heat is called, as I walk out to set my blocks, I look out and see thousands of people, not to mention the few million watching live.  I set my blocks and wait for the commands.  ‘Runners take your mark.’  I read my 2nd Corinthians 12:9 scripture on my arm and settle in my blocks.  ‘Set’ . . . my heart begins to beat faster and I remember, God’s Grace . .  ‘Bang!’  I push out hard and before I know it the first hurdle is there.  I clear it perfectly and the race is one.  My next four hurdles are smooth, but I know ‘they’ are coming.  As I approach the sixth hurdle, I see Bershawn, which means that they have caught up to me.   We come into the last 100 meters and I’m in the middle of the pack.  I know that I have to come in top two to get a good lane for tomorrow, so I surge for the finish line; second place.  I made it; I dropped to my knee and lift my hands thanking God for his Grace.

It’s day two, and I go through my same routine as the day before.  Today will be harder, because there are only two heats and top four from each heat make the finals.  I am in the first heat and in lane seven; guess I’m destined to run from the front.  After getting things ready, I finally head over to the track; it’s a lot more crowded, which means one step closer to my goal.  As I warm-up, my nerves seem to come and go.  I stay focus and think about God’s Grace, which seems to calm me every time.  Finally, they call is to the holding tent; round two.  I have Justin Gaymon, Bershawn, Kerron Clement (some of the top-five runners in the world) in my heat; this is going to be a fight.  After getting our hip numbers, we are called out to set our blocks; the crowd definitely grew since yesterday.  As I set my blocks, I ask the Lord for his grace to allow me to run as hard as I can.  (For those that know me, know that that’s not my usually race plan).  We are called to our marks, and I once again read my same scripture and wait for the gun.  I don’t even really remember the gun going off, I just see my first hurdle coming up quick.  I hit it perfectly and then I go for it.  My heart is definitely going to explode; oh well.  As I approach my sixth hurdle, Bershawn has pulled up even with me, so I know he brought company.  As we come around to the last 100 meters, I give it everything I got.  I see that Reginald Wyatt is just ahead of me and that puts me in fifth.  I lean for the line and wait for the results; ‘fifth place…LaRon Bennett’.  My heart drops and I look to the sky and I give praise to God and his Grace.

As I walk back to the warm-up area, it begins to set in that goal of making the team has come to an end.  I gave it everything I had, and I came up short; yeah, this one hurts.  What now?  The reality of this question hits harder when I get back to my room.  I’m not upset about my race, because I gave it everything I had, but the reality still remains.  Do I continue to chase this dream, the last goal on my list, or do I make that transition into the coaching world? F or the first time in my life, I am stuck.  My heart says keep going, heck, my body says keep going too, but I have a family now and providing for them has to be at the forefront.  I call my wife and we talk for a while and I know what I have to do . . .

Again, I say thank you for all of you all that have help me from start to finish.  I will remember all that you have done for me and the support you have given me.  Thank you to all my fans; I hope that I have made you proud.  To, my clients and highschool kids, thank you guys for your constant support.  To my coaches (especially you, Coach Jon Stuart), thank you for giving me a chance.  You all believed in my potential when not many did.  To my teachers/administration, many thanks for educating me and preparing me for the working world.  To my teammates, it was a true pleasure going to battle with you and being a big brother to you all.  To the Bulldog Nation, special thanks and . . . Gooooo Dawgs, Sic ‘em!  To my church family, thank you for the spiritual growth and guidance that you have given me and supported me with.  Lastly, I thank my family; your sacrifice and support has been unparalleled.  My wife and I have decided that it is time for me to transition into the collegiate coaching world; this is one of my passions, so I’m excited about where this new journey will take us.  With the donned names ‘Showtime’ and ‘Ole Warhorse,’ I say thanks, and I am done…until 2016?”

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