The blocks are secured and the gun has been fired. Now it's time to trust in ability. Get out fast, find a rhythm and kick to the finish with everything that is left.
For a sprinter racing down the home stretch, the buzz of screaming turns into one distant jumble, and with the finish line in sight, a calm, safe quiet fills your head.
The essence of what one experiences in a track and field race is the way Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn moves through life. Setting one goal at a time and not stopping until she makes it a reality.
Cuthbert-Flynn has yet another realized ambition to add to a long list, as she will be inducted to the Texas Athletics Hall of Honor. The recognition bestowed to former letterwinners signifies an elite group of athletes who set standards of excellence while at UT and were successful after their time here.
Cuthbert-Flynn, a three-time Olympic medalist and a three-time NCAA champion, is no stranger to this idea.
"I think it's pretty much the highest honor you can get. I appreciate it. It means a lot to me that I am acknowledged for what I did for my school," Cuthbert-Flynn said.
Growing up in her native country of Jamaica, Cuthbert-Flynn started making a name for herself at a young age. At the age of 6, she was competing, and by the time she was a freshman in high school she "was pretty much the best in Jamaica at that time in [her] age group."
Cuthbert-Flynn quickly realized that her sprinting talents could take her somewhere.
"The competition was fun for me and I loved the challenge even from that age," Cuthbert-Flynn said.
At the impressionable age of 16, Cuthbert-Flynn moved to Philadelphia to be with her mother and into a world unlike her Caribbean home, filled with snow and uncertainty.
"It was too cold [in Philadelphia]," Cuthbert-Flynn said.
With college on her horizon, Cuthbert-Flynn did what she does best. She focused on being the best track and field athlete she could be, and she set another goal: get to somewhere warm.
Enter the University of Texas. Cuthbert-Flynn had heard about UT from several Jamaican friends she met at the 1980 Moscow Olympics who were involved in the program. Throw in the typically warm and sunny climate in Austin, and her decision was rather easy.
In 1982, her first year at Texas, flashes of Cuthbert-Flynn's raw talent began to show.
"I was able actually to make it to the finals in the 200m and run a personal best, running under 23 seconds," Cuthbert-Flynn said. "I was just a scrub coming in, but I was having fun."
Sophomore year rolled around and Cuthbert-Flynn's natural ability, technique and speed found part of what she needed to get over the edge — assistant track coach John Millar.
"He refined what I had," Cuthbert-Flynn said.
A performance like Cuthbert-Flynn's at the 1986 NCAA Championships, where she scored 30 points for Texas, winning the 100 meters, 200 meters and running a leg on the 4×100 relay would help set the tradition of excellence that is synonymous with women's track and field at Texas.
Cuthbert-Flynn's plethora of points coupled helped the Longhorns win the team national championship.
"I think once I got there and the batch of students that were there that first year in 1982, I think that's when the team started doing much better. So it was that batch that actually made UT more dominant in athletics for women," Cuthbert-Flynn said.
Throughout her five Olympic game appearances (1980-1996), Cuthbert-Flynn continued to push herself.
Set one goal. Shatter it.
Set a new goal. Defeat it.
After a near miss for a spot in the 100m final at the 1984 games in Los Angeles, Cuthbert aimed higher.
"I had to set another goal," she said with a laugh. "And I said the next Olympic Games, I wanted to make it to the finals."
Determined to succeed, she did just that, and after making it to the finals in the 1988 games she knew it was not enough. Cuthbert-Flynn would not stop until she had a medal.
Cuthbert-Flynn joined the elite club of Olympic medalists in 1992 when she took home two silver medals for Jamaica in the 100 and 200.
"I always said to myself, I should have asked for a specific place because since I was getting everything I wanted, I should have asked for the gold medal, not just a medal," Cuthbert-Flynn said.
Cuthbert-Flynn is still in the goal-setting mindset as she plans to run to become a member of the Parliament in Jamaica in the upcoming elections.
A decorated athlete, driven runner and focused record-breaker, Cuthbert-Flynn fondly appreciates her connection with Texas.
"I can proudly say I attended the University of Texas."
Day of Distinction: 2015 Men's and Women's Hall of Honor Induction
Please join Texas Athletics as we induct 13 decorated and distinguished former University of Texas student-athletes and staff into the Men's and Women's Athletics Halls of Honor on Friday, Sept. 25.
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