Dez Bryant is an American sprinter who took 5th in the 200m in Doha 2019 and achieved bronze in the US 4x100m in Doha. Dez took the gold in the NCAA 200m champs in 2015, with a PB o 22.18. She is a 17 time NCAA All American, and has a PB in the 100m of 10.99.
Stuart Weir gave Dez Bryant a whole load of questions, 22 in fact, and she answered them with aplomb.
Thanks Dez for your answers.
Thanks, Stuart for the questions…
22 questions for Dez Bryant
1. How did you start running?
I started when I was 10/11 because all my brothers did after school sport. I was the only one who didn’t do anything. One day I was at my brother’s football game, there was this random guy asking for girls to run track. My Dad heard him and because I was always racing my brothers, he knew I was fast, so he said “sign her up, and we’ll see how it goes. That’s how it started and ever since, I have been running.
2. How long did it take you to realize that you were quite good?
At the age eleven I wasn’t taking it that seriously. It was probably not until my junior year in the high school and I was thinking, “OK, I can do this” and then I started running a little faster and I thought “maybe I could get to college” but I never thought I would be where I am now.
3. Did you always sprint?
Yes, I have. Looking back, I wish I had tried other events but I always did the 100 and the 200. I wanted to try long jump, but my coach would never let me try. They say that if you land badly you can injure yourself. It was “you don’t know the technique so let’s not go there”.
4. What were your expectations for U.S. trials 2019?
I was expecting to win the 100m. I had worked all year on 100m. I had signed up for the 200 but only because my coach said “let’s sign up for both – just to give you options”. I was expecting just to do 100m. My training had revolved around me running fast at 100m. So that was my expectation but when I didn’t make it in 100 and it was like “what just happened?” I had been expecting to run really fast in 100m.
5. Is Fourth the worst place to finish?
Yes – and fourth by 100th of a second. It was devastating. It would have been my first U.S. team for a major championship. And I had worked so hard on every part of my race – the ending, my start, the middle – and for it to go sideways was devastating. I was discouraged, but I allowed myself to be discouraged for just 15 minutes, thinking “I still have a chance in the 200”.
6. How hard was it to pick yourself up?
It wasn’t that bad because I had my coach and people around me. Everyone encouraged the saying “you did the best you could do”. I was upset, but I knew that I had gone out there and given it my all. I left it all on the track but it didn’t work out. And that is easier to deal with than thinking I should have done this, I should have given more”…. Having gone out there and done what is meant to do made it a little easier.
7. How confident were you are in the 200?
I knew I had a chance and was making jokes about sliding into the 200. I said I might slide in second or third. Looking at who was in the 200 and their times, I knew I could run a fast or 200 as I’d done it in college and over the years. I was confident. I knew I had to run a hard 150 and see.
8. What do you remember of the final?
I remember my coach telling me to run an all out to 150 and then finish. So it was run as fast as I could to 150 then our plan was to hope that everyone else was too tired to catch me!
I was in lane six. Clearly lane six is my lane. I won an NCAA title from lane six and USAs from lane six. Lane 6 is mine!
9. Lane 6 meant you were in front of over people inside you?
Yes that was the plan. Get out quickly and if they have the energy to catch you, so be it. Just make sure you do your part.
10. Do you enjoy running relays?
I love running relays. I love the 4 by 100. I also have a dream that one day I’ll be on the U.S. 4 by 400. If I don’t know how it’s going to work but it’s a dream.
I think I can run any leg (of the 4 by 100) and am fine with any leg but I usually go first or third. First leg, because I start well and in the 2019 World Relays I ran third and that seemed to go well.
11. You have done 4 by 200 at the world relays. How did you find the that?
I liked the 4 by 200. The tricky thing in that race is for the person taking the baton, you have to gauge how fast the person is coming towards you. In the 100, you know they’re going to becoming full speed and in the 400 you know they’re going to be dying but in the 200 it’s like “yes I am coming fast but I’m also dying at the same time”.
12. What your training like?
I am with the crazy coach so we train a lot. Leading up to the U.S. champs, we trained every day. Typically, 9.00am. to 1230 during the season. But with base training, it is pretty long. We usually do our track workouts first and go to the gym after. I love our training group Justin Gatlin, Aaron Brown, Isiah Young, Kaylin Whitney and some other developmental athletes. So we have a pretty solid group.
13. At Tennessee you did some coaching?
I was a volunteer coach for the university. It was cool. I helped at track meets, giving athletes whatever they wanted and at training. I worked with some girls as well.
14. Might you do coaching when you finish running?
It’s a possibility. I wouldn’t say no but I don’t think it’s my ultimate goal. But if the opportunity presented itself I would definitely take it,
15. What difference does it make to your life being a Christian?
I didn’t grow up in church. I could count on my hands the number of times I went to church growing up. Faith didn’t start until I was on my own in college. My older brother had died in an accident. That was tough and eight months later I had another brother who died at a party. I think that all kick-started it. Plus being isolated from family, living on my own and finding my own way in life, kinda sparked something. From that moment I started going to church. It didn’t happen instantly it was more of a slow process. But that’s definitely where it started. But each year I started learning more am going to church more. And it is honestly the best thing that ever happened to me.
The difference between me being a Christian now and when I wasn’t is that I know, at the end of the day, that I am protected, but I’m going to heaven and that I have the creator of everything on my side. So whatever life brings my way I can always have that confidence.
My favourite Bible verse is Romans 8:28 “in all things God works for the good of those who love him”. So when I’m going through hard times I just repeat that in my mind: “whatever difficulties I am going through now, his word says it all for my good”. I’m not saying my problems are less but knowing that makes a big difference just knowing who is on your side and that you have a father in heaven, who cares about you.
16. Were you happy with your performance in Doha (fifth in 200)?
Doha was my first World Championship and I think I did exceptionally well to place fifth. But I know that I have got more to give. As it was my first time, I felt a lot of nerves and a lot of pressure going into the races. Because I was the U.S. champion, I felt there were a lot of eyes on me. That’s why I think I have a lot more to give on the world stage. But it was a strong performance for my first time. A lot of the people I was racing against had been there before and were comfortable in the environment.
My aim the entire year was simply to get to Doha because the U.S. trials are so competitive that I felt I had to put all my eggs in just making the team. And then when I got to Doha I was thinking I have a chance to do something great. So, I had the mindset that I need to showcase that I was good enough to be on the world stage. But having shown that I belong there it will now be expected that I make the U.S. team every time. Unfortunately, I will now have to wait until next year to build on it. And my goal next time will be a medal. So next time my mindset will be completely different.
17. What about the relay (4 by 400 bronze)?
The relay was exceptionally good as well. The crazy thing was that we had so many problems with the relay even before we got to Doha, with girls pulling out of the relay pool. We didn’t even have a relay camp where we could practice together. We had to bring in people who hadn’t even made the final at U.S. Champs. Then in Doha, some of us had individual events to focus on as well as trying to get comfortable with the people we were going to give the baton to and take it from – because we did not have time prior to that even to practice. So that was a big deal. And then when we got there, we have another hiccup in the 100m with English getting hurt. So, we had to keep making adjustments. And I think the four girls we put out there did really well considering that me handing it to Teahna Daniels, we only had one or two handoffs prior to going into the race. It was nerve-wracking and I know the coaches were scrambling around to find alternates in case something happened to one of us four. So, there was a lot going on and then for us to go out and place third was just amazing in view of everything we had gone through prior to the race.
18. How would you assess your year 2019?
Overall, I thought the year was amazing. I experienced things that I had not experienced before – like winning races that I hadn’t won for years, seeing my dreams manifested and proving to myself that I belong on the world stage. Overall amazing, but there were a lot of ups and a lot of downs but the ups definitely overshadow the downs. But the downs were things that taught me a lot about myself. Early in the year my season wasn’t going at all the way I imagined it to be going. There were a lot of races that I lost at the end and a lot of performances that I wasn’t happy with. But it showed me that if you don’t give up but keep pushing forward regardless of what happens and recognize that every race is a new opportunity and that you have a chance to change what wasn’t right in the last race.
I learned too that nothing is guaranteed. You have athletes who were shining and who were expected to be on the world stage but they didn’t make it. That just showed me that anything can happen so you need just to put yourself in the best position physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally to show up when it’s time to show up.
19. What has life been like in spring 2020?
It’s been crazy. I think the craziest thing for me is that everything started getting closed down just a couple of days before I was due to travel to Texas to start my season. Literally two or three days before, we were told they had canceled the meet because of Corona. And now pretty much life is completely different.
I have never had a year before that I haven’t competed so there are a lot of adjustments. Adjustments by athletes and by coaches. We do everything we can which the restrictions allow – like we go running in a park or do a bike ride. The track where we usually train, the gym and weight room have been closed since mid-March. So, we have been on our own since mid-March.
20. Did you find that frustrating not to be able to build on your good year in 2019?
It’s hard to stay motivated and focused when you don’t even have a race in sight. It’s just unknown and we’ve never been in this situation before. I try to remind myself that if we don’t have a season and everything gets cancelled, I can still do my best with the things that I can do. It is a strange situation but we’re all experiencing the same thing. So, I can’t let the situation be an excuse. I just have to try my hardest with everything I can do at the moment. One of the hardest bits of motivation is staying on my diet. It easy to ask yourself why you are eating healthily if there are no races! Our coach has done a good job keeping us motivated and mentally right. But it is hard and I take it day by day.
21. Do you expect to run in 2020?
I’ve heard mixed reports. I’ve heard that they are trying to put on one or two Diamond Leagues perhaps in August/September, but that nothing is finalized. Maybe there will be a season and maybe not. I keep hearing different things.
22. How did the Olympics being postponed affect you?
Nothing has changed with the Olympics being postponed. My goal is still to be a first time Olympian and that will still be the same next year as this year. It sucks for people who had planned to retire this year, after the Olympics and move on to something different. It was the right call, and knowing in my heart that postponing was best for everyone helped me a lot to refocus.
It is also the case that a lot of stress has been taken away because, before they postponed the Olympics, we were in a situation where we couldn’t train properly. The track was closed and we didn’t know how long we were going to have to make do with bike work etc. Not being able to train and knowing it was just a few months to the Olympics, that was a lot of stress on me and the training group. Particularly as we knew that in some other parts of the U.S. athletes were still able to train because their restrictions were not as severe as ours in Florida. It wouldn’t have been fair if we had had to go to trials with only four weeks of training when others have been training for months. That was a lot of stress. So, in that sense when it was postponed we were just relieved. We were just focusing on keeping safe and switching the mindset to next year. And it’s not like they canceled the Olympics; they are just a year later.