The Journey '16: Omar "Ope" Craddock

It's 2016 and finally Olympic year for athletes who have trained day in and day out since the last summer games in London of 2012. This is the year where it all counts. Meet Omar Craddock, a twenty-four-year-old from Killeen, Texas chasing his Olympic dream. Formerly a stand-out member on The University of Florida's Men's Track and Field team, which is also considered as "The University of Flights", Omar, who is now endorsed by Adidas is seeing much success at the professional level. After living in Gainesville, Florida for the past five years; Craddock is now back in his hometown of Killeen training for this year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Born in Fulda, Germany, and raised in the great state of Texas, Omar has always been a natural-born athlete. Originally starting out in sports as a football player, the decision to take on his own athletic career came from watching his older brother, Timothy. "I watched as he was one of the fastest and best all-around athletes on his middle school team... That's when I wanted to do the same thing" he explained. At the age of fourteen and in the eighth grade he began competing in track and field. Craddock started out in sprinting events, such as the 100 and 200-meter dash, relays, as well as high jump, and discus. However, shortly after his first competition his coach brought attention to Omar's athleticism and believed he was a triple jumper. Not knowing exactly what triple jump was, his coach then told him "Jump twice on one leg, switch, and jump once on the other into the pit." That is exactly what Omar did and the winning tradition began.

Since competing for the University of Florida and stepping out on the world stage, there's one thing that differentiates Omar Craddock from the rest of the field, his style. Introducing a little piece of his southern-manner around the world, he is sure to bring a different flavor to the table. "I love jewelry, and I am one to wear it all out on stage" he explained. "My gold teeth, chains, earrings, and sunglasses. I would call wearing sunglasses my trademark because no one has done that before."  His style may certainly set the tone, but it's his aggression that makes his performances convivial. " I am one that will talk noise to the competitors. It's not to belittle them, but more-so to bring the competitive edge out of them" said Omar. "I tend to jump better when I feel on fire."

So far, the triple jump is helping Omar create a household name for himself in the track and field world. With only two competitions under his belt for his 2016 indoor campaign, both being on the IAAF Indoor Circuit, and pulling out consecutive wins in the two events he competed in; giving him an automatic bid to the World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon in March. It's safe to say that Omar Craddock's indoor season has had a great start, but as he prepares to switch gears and head into the outdoor season, Craddock is personally looking forward to continuing his growth as a professional athlete and learning more about the sport. 

As the trials get near the main focus for this Olympic hopeful is his consistency and his faith. Last year, at the 2015 Outdoor World Championships, Omar was in a good position to bring home a third-place medal for the USA. However, it was his sixth jump, described as his worst jump of the competition, that allowed his competitor in fourth place to surpass Craddock's best jump; bumping him out from receiving a bronze medal. From dealing with a bruised heel injury in 2011 that hindered his sophomore season with the Gators, to missing the 2012 London team by one spot at the trials; it has been quite the journey. A journey of ups and downs, highs and lows, but Omar still preservers. Throughout the many obstacles and disappointments he has faced, staying positive with his motto "Dream Big, B.I.G." and adamant about his room to improve is what has kept him going. "Obviously, I can get better in my sport because I'm not number-one!" he explains. "I can improve my relationships with family and friends... Countless things in any person's life can be improved. I dream big because I don't want to set limitations on myself. Anything is possible if you believe, and everything is possible with God; which is what B.I.G stands for... Believe In God."

Olympic games only come around every four years. By keeping the thought of how close he was to make the team in 2012, Omar is hopeful that he's done enough in his preparation to show and prove his diligence and come out victorious for the United States of America. "I want to thank my supporters for always believing and showing love to me. Through the times when I was losing to the times I was winning, even though my off the field troubles and successes - Thank You! You've inspired me more than anything." Make sure to look out for Omar once the trials come around in July and may this prolonged journey, be well worth the wait with a well-deserved ticket; punched to Rio.

1 comment

  1. Very well written. Amazing article. I will be looking out for him.