Colorado College can boast just about every kind of exceptional student. We have outstanding artists, musicians, slackliners, hockey players, and intellectuals.
And this fall, we can boast about an Olympian. Sophomore Trevor Barron competed in the 20 km race walk in the 2012 London Olympic Games. He walks a 6:30 mile.
Barron finished 26th this year in his first Olympic games.
“It was great to experience the coming together of the international community under peaceful circumstances,” Barron said. “I also enjoyed sharing a few weeks with some of the world’s best athletes. I could sit in my suite and trade stories with Leo Manzano and then go to the Olympic Stadium the next night and watch my suitemate win a silver medal.”
To train, Barron said he covers about 130-140 km, mostly race walking. He also will do some running and cycling to cross train and loosen his muscles.
“It has been an unforgettable privilege to be Trevor’s water boy and jog alongside him for hundreds of training miles,” said his father, Bruce Barron. “We discussed Russian history, calculus, and positive and negative sports models while he carried out what was almost certainly the most demanding race-walk training program ever taken on by an American teenager.”
“My usual training route goes north on Corona St., then east to get onto the Rock Island recreational trail,” Barron said in an interview last year. “Sometimes I train on the track, but I have a GPS watch that measures distances so I don’t need to be on the track to do intervals. Twice a week I do fast workouts, which means going about 6:30 per mile for intervals totaling up to 20 km (12.5 miles) without running.”
Barron took this training more seriously as the Olympics seemed to be a possible accomplishment.
“I had not considered making the Olympics as an attainable goal until the last couple years, so it was certainly an awesome feeling to be at the starting line with the world’s best in an Olympic event,” Barron said. “Of course they made me start at the back, since they line us up in alphabetical order by country. But it was still awesome to hang near the front pack for half the race until two red cards from judges caused me to become more careful, since three red cards make a disqualification.”
Barron and his sister joined a track club in 2001. His sister qualified for the USA Track and Field national Junior Olympics in three different events, but Barron competed in the springs and long jumps without qualifying at all. The next year, he chose different events and qualified for the Junior Olympics in the high jump, mini-javelin throw, and race walk. In five appearances, he won five medals: four gold and one silver.
Barron said his epilepsy made him give up competitive swimming, so he focused more seriously on race walking, earning a place on the U.S. National Team to travel to Russia in 2008 for the World Race Walking Cup.
“It has been great watching Trevor grow through his race walking,” said his coach, Tim Seaman. “He started off as a shy young kid and he is now a very independent elite athlete who has learned a lot over the years and who has the potential to use his epilepsy to motivate and encourage other kids out there to believe in themselves and to not place barriers onto themselves.”
“My favorite part is when he does things that few people believe he can do, but [he] and I know that he can do,” Seaman said. “I love seeing him break alleged barriers.”
There was a point, though, when Barron said he quit race walking because he was tired of the laughing and teasing that came from his workouts at the local park. After six months, though, he said he decided to not give up this lifetime opportunity because people were laughing at him.
And that decision has paid off after his experience in London.
“At the finish I was disappointed about not having been able to exert myself to the maximum possible amount physically, due to being more careful about my form, but my time was the fastest ever done by an American in an Olympic race walk, so I guess I shouldn’t be too dissatisfied,” Barron said.
“Trevor has demonstrated unshakable determination to excel while always, as an athlete, recognizing that camaraderie, sportsmanship, and building international friendships are more important than where he places,” said his father. “In his 2010 speech, when accepting USA Track and Field’s Youth Athlete of the Year award, he quoted the great comment by Jesse Owens that appears in the Olympic Training Center cafeteria: ‘Awards become tarnished and diplomas fade… What is a gold medal? It is a trinket, a bauble. What counts, my friends, are the realities of life: the fact of competition and, yes, the great and good friends you make.’”
That was what the experience of the Olympics seemed to be for Barron, and now he is ready to return to the CC community. This year he said he plans to focus on getting back to his close and supportive friends here at CC while staying in shape and working hard at his studies.
“I very much appreciate all of the support from people at CC and First Presbyterian Church throughout the last year,” Barron said. “I don’t wish to be treated as anything special just because I am an Olympian. I am a 19-year-old with a passion for riding my bike, programming computers, and learning languages as a CC student just like you.”
And we almost believe him.