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All-Access: Off of the Track with Hurdler Robert Jackson - MEMPHIS OFFICIAL ATHLETIC SITE

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  Robert Jackson overcomes hurdles on the track and in life en route to the 2010 NCAA Outdoor National Championships.

 

 

June 3, 2010 By: Adam K. Moussa MEMPHIS, Tenn.- When 110 meter hurdler Robert Jackson slipped coming out of the blocks at the 2010 NCAA East Regional on May 28 he knew that he had a tremendous amount of ground to make up and many hurdles to overcome, but for this two-time AllConference USA performer the situation was far from new. Those who know Robert Jackson know that he has been overcoming hurdles and obstacles on and off of the track all of his life. Whether it is avoiding negative influences, adjusting to a new life at a new school, or even suffering an injury that would sideline him for an entire summer, Jackson has always found a way to stay positive and make the best of any situation he found himself in, an attribute that he credits learning from his mother. At the age of eight, Jackson began playing football on a little league team. It was there that he was introduced to the sport of track and field. "One day, one of my teammates told me that I should run track, I did, and I loved it," Jackson recalls. Today he couldn't picture his life without the sport. "When I started, track was like therapy to me, and it still is today."

  Robert Jackson looks to achieve All-American status at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor National Championships   Up next for Track

NCAA Championships When Jackson was in the ninth grade his family moved from Atlanta to Snellville, Monday 11/22 TBA Georgia, a northeast suburb approximately 25 miles away. The move forced Jackson to   meet new people and adjust to a new school. However, one thing remained constant, his love for sports. Athletics offered Jackson a positive way to meet new people, express himself and avoid negative influences.

"My whole family was always involved in athletics particularly basketball and football," including his uncle, former Tiger defensive end Jada Brown, whom Jackson credits with keeping him out of trouble. "When I was younger I always just hung around Jada, he always looked out for me and kept me away from bad situations," Jackson recalls. As the years progressed, Jackson decided to focus solely on track, giving up his first love, football. This decision soon paid off, as Jackson steadily improved and showed serious potential as a hurdler. However, a fractured growth plate in Jackson's right hip almost ended his young career. "When I was a freshman in high school I hurt my hip while competing, I didn't really think much of it until one day it hurt so bad that my mom insisted on taking me to the doctor and that's when I found out that I had a broken my growth plate. The inflammation was so bad that I ended up not being able to walk all summer," Jackson recalls. While many would have limped away from the sport, Jackson set his mind to overcoming this obstacle with hopes of returning better than ever. Jackson's uncle, former Tiger defensive end Jada Brown always

After countless hours of therapy, that's exactly what he did, ending his prep career ranked fifth nationally in the 60-meter hurdles.

kept him on the right path

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When it was time to decide on where to take his skills after high school, all of Jackson's hard work paid off and he found himself with multiple offers including the likes of Memphis, Kansas, Ole Miss, Georgia and Tennessee. After quickly committing to the University of Kansas, Jackson soon decided that Memphis was the only school for him. "My dad wanted me to take my time and weigh all my options to make sure I was making the right choice, and after considering it I knew that Memphis was the only place that I wanted to be," Jackson said. Upon arriving on campus, Jackson wasted no time contributing to the Tiger track and field program, finishing first in two outdoor meets and earning All-C-USA honors. "Robert just has that inner drive. He is consistent, he communicates well with me and I trust him," hurdles and sprints coach Nic Fortenberry said. Jackson hasn't let his performance in the classroom slip either, a lesson taught to him at a young age by his father. "My dad always told me to focus on school," Jackson recalls. "He would always say sports will come and go but no one can ever take away your education." Robert has taken those words to heart and assembled an impressive academic resume by earning All-C-USA Commissioner's honors, Tiger 3.0 Club honors and University Dean's List honors while majoring in criminal justice. Fortenberry credits Jackson's hard work, dedication and his desire to succeed as the keys to his immediate success both on the track and in the classroom. "The best thing about Robert is that he pushes himself, all I have to do is guide him," Fortenberry said. "Robert is everything you want in a student-athlete and as a young man. I think if you surveyed the team you would be hardpressed to find anyone with anything negative to say about him. He is a pleasure to be around and I look for only bigger and better things to come from Robert. He just needs the opportunity." Jackson will get that opportunity when the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships begin on June 11 at one of the world's most prestigious venues, Hayward Field, located on the University of Oregon's campus. "I can't wait," Jackson stated. "People have told me that I wasn't supposed to make it this far. I just want to continue to surprise them and hopefully achieve All-American status." Regardless of whether he is on the track or in the classroom, Jackson always gives full effort, works hard and continues to make a positive impact on the University of Memphis while overcoming any obstacles or hurdles that cross his path. As he looks forward, he can only anticipate greater things to come. "I am very excited for whatever life throws at me next and I am very proud to represent the University of Memphis on and off of the track."  

 

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All-Access: Off of the Track with Hurdler Robert Jackson