KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee sprint champion Christian Coleman has told SEC Country he’s ready to turn professional after a record-setting year with the Vols.
“I’ve had a lot of time to think about this and discuss it with my family, and I felt this was the best decision for myself and my family,” Coleman said. “I’ve had a pretty historic collegiate season, and it has always been a dream of mine to run on the professional level.”
Coleman, a member of the USA’s Olympic Track and Field Team in the Rio Olympics, has signed with sports agent Emanuel Hudson of HSInternational Sports Management in Irvine, Calif.
Coleman, who set NCAA records this spring with a 9.82-second time in the 100 meters and 19.85 time in the 200, will compete in the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in Sacramento next Thursday.
Coleman will run in the 100 meters and 200 meters — the events he swept at the NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., last week. Coleman also won the NCAA indoor 60 meters and 200 this year.
Coleman’s indoor-outdoor sprint sweeps match a feat accomplished only once before in history, by fellow former Tennessee track champion Justin Gatlin in 2003.
The USATF Outdoor Championships serve as the trials for the selection of the USA Team that will run in the world championships in London beginning Aug. 4.
“Not much else will change,” Coleman said, asked about his impending professional career. “I’m going to continue to attend the University of Tennessee, and I’ll be with the same coach.”
Education is a priority in Coleman’s family, and he said he is determined to complete his degree in sports management even while competing on the global tack circuit.
Hudson said it’s a sound investment of Coleman’s time.
“A professional athlete is more valuable when they have a degree than when they don’t,” Hudson said. “Companies look at you differently. They know they can do certain things with him, and he becomes more desirable.”
Coleman said he owes a lot to his family as well as the support networks he had growing up in Atlanta and as a student at Tennessee.
“I want to thank my parents, my grandparents, and really everyone in my family for supporting me in everything I do,” Coleman said. “Having that loving background and that support system motivates me every day and makes me appreciate how many people have made sacrifices to help me get to where I am.”
Coleman said growing up in Atlanta was a blessing, as he benefitted from the city’s sports recreation programs and coaching throughout his childhood into his high school career.
“It was very important growing up in Atlanta, where the track is very competitive and I could get involved in track and field at an early age,” said Coleman, who began running track and playing football when he was 5 years old. “The College Park Jetters were my youth rec league team, and then the Running Panthers were my summer AAU track program.”
Coleman said Tennessee was the first major college to believe in him, recruiting him out of Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School in Fayetteville, Ga.
“The confidence Tennessee had in me meant a lot to me,” Coleman said. “If I didn’t come to Tennessee, I wouldn’t be in this position. I owe a lot to (sprint) coach Tim Hall. He helped me transform my body and develop as a runner.”
Coleman’s next steps might very well be into the history books; he actually pulled up at the end of his NCAA record-breaking time in the 100 meters in Oregon, having won the preliminary race.
Coleman’s times in the 100 and 200 meters this outdoor track season are the fastest times in those events in the world this year.