W-S native reaches goals in track and field

June 14
03:00 2018

Richard Vinson, a 2018 graduate of SE Missouri State University, was born in Winston-Salem.  Recently he competed in the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the javelin.

Vinson finished 19th overall in the event held in Eugene, Oregon, June 6-9.  His accomplishment is that much more impressive if you take into account he has only been throwing the javelin for two years.

“I am really happy with how I performed because coming into the season, my main goal was to just make it to nationals,” said Vinson.  “I had three goals, actually, which were to make it to regionals, make it to nationals and to break the school record.  I was able to do all three, which is a great accomplishment.”

The javelin is notorious for having some of the most stiff competition in all of track and field.  Many of the competitors come from outside the U.S. and have been competing on the national level for their home nations for years.

Having such quick success in the sport was somewhat of a surprise for Vinson, he stated.  He says he put in countless hours of practice to get to this level.  Vinson says he loves the challenge of the javelin to try and get better each day.

Vinson came to SE Missouri State as a football player, initially.  He wanted to begin a track career in the long jump, so he walked onto the school team with that goal.  In the middle of practice, a coach asked him how far he could throw a football and transitioned to the javelin the next day.

“At first I was terrible at it, but I just stuck with it, and two years later to be here is great,” he said.  “I never touched a javelin before and never ran track in high school, but I picked it up and it ended up working out.”

As a junior, his first year competing in the javelin, Vinson won the Ohio Valley Conference championship in the event.  His main goal that year was to win the conference championship.

Going forward, Vinson has his eyes set on the 2020 Olympic Games.  He has started working with world renowned track and field coach George “Pup” Williams of St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh.  St. Augustine’s has dominated the Division II track and field scene for several decades under Williams.  Williams has also been a coach on several Olympic teams dating back to the 1990s.

“The best thing he can give me is experience because I am so brand new to the sport,” Vinson said about what Williams can bring to his training.  “I am still learning to perfect my craft and technique and I feel like he will get me to the next level to where I can be a great athlete for the U.S.A. one day.”

On Nov. 5, 2017, Vinson lost his mother, Tonya.  The loss of his mother gave him a reason to push and inspire in spite of the circumstances he was going through, he said.

“It happened in November, so it was literally right before our season started, so that really motivated me,” he said.  “She always believed I would make it and she always told me I would, so I wrote it down on a note card and looked at it every day.”

For Vinson, he feels more confident now more than ever.  He says the only difference he saw in him from the other competitors was simply experience. 

“I am already close to where they are right now and they have been doing this for a lot longer than I have,” he continued.  “I feel that if I keep progressing at this rate, I have a chance to really be somewhere in the next couple of years.”

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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