Motivation from a gold medalist

Track champ Diane Dixon speaks at Hoboken Library

Olympic gold medalist Diane Dixon spoke to roughly 30 attendees at an event hosted by the Hoboken Public Library Thursday, Aug 11.

Dixon won a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles by running the 4 x 400 meter relay.  She won silver in the same event in the 1988 Seoul, Korea Olympics.

She remembers her time at the 1988 Olympics and strategizing with teammate Florence Joyner before the race.

“I told Flo Jo, stay behind the Russian,” said Dixon. “I should have said and then pass her,” she laughed.

Dixon said, “We got second and they had to beat a world record to beat us.”

“I’m not waiting for you. You’ll have to come get me.” –Diane Dixon

The Brooklyn native won her first USA Indoor Track and Field Championships in 1981, which began her 10-year streak of consecutive wins in 400-meter races. In 1991 she set the American Record at the World Indoor Championships in Seville, Spain at 50.64 seconds, which stood until 2010. This winning streak dubbed her the “Indoor Queen.”

During the ’91 World Indoor Championships, she remembers thinking, “I’m not waiting for you. You’ll have to come get me,” as she took the lead and heard the other athletes steps behind her. 

At the end of the race she was “shocked” to hear she had just set an American record, especially since she was not favored to win at the time.

Dixon’s stories motivated the audience members.

Ruth came from North Bergen for the event.

“She was so inspiring and engaging,” she said. “Her accomplishments made me want to come and see her. She was so accessible.”

Her beginnings

Dixon fondly remembered her track and field beginnings.

“I didn’t know running was for me,” she said. “It was just natural… I was a hyperactive child they probably would’ve diagnosed me as ADD.”

When watching a track meet at the age of 13, Dixon “crawled through a hole in the fence and just joined the heat that was running…That’s what started my track and field career.”

She told the audience how important a good mentor can be.

She explained that her coach “took her under his wing” and told her one day she would be an Olympic champion. At the time she didn’t know what an Olympic champion was because the Olympics weren’t well known where she grew up, in the inner city of Brooklyn.

Dixon also spoke about the importance of making workouts fun.

“Working out is tough,” she said. “You have to make it a fun activity that you and your family can do in the morning or when you get home from work.”

She plays a game with her own kids to get them energized. She assigned each letter of the alphabet to a certain exercise and has them spell out their names by doing each one.

She added, “Any future Olympian can be in this room right now.” 

Current work

Now Dixon is a track and field coach at ASA College in New York and the president of the Tri-State Olympians/Paralympians Chapter at United States Olympic Committee.

Dixon encouraged the children in the audience to reach out to Olympic athletes whom they may idolize. 

“Olympians are very accessible especially through social media,” she said. “It’s you guys who make them who they are. They will talk to you. They are just like regular people.”

At the end of the presentation Dixon quizzed the audience on the accomplishments of various Olympic athletes, and gave USA paraphernalia to the winners including sweatshirts, flags, and gym bags.

Marilyn Baer can be reached at

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