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Conway Seeks to Inspire Others

Conway Seeks to Inspire Others

Conway Seeks to Inspire Others

Marsha Sills

With candid honesty, two-time Olympic high-jumper Hollis Conway told students that no goal is out of reach.

"I’ve been down many times, but being down is not the problem – staying down is the problem," Conway said.

The bronze and silver Olympic medalist spoke to students at the University of Louisiana on Friday.

This year, he and the late Floyd Sonnier have been honored as outstanding alumni recognized by the Alumni Association during Homecoming.

In 1995, an injury kept him from competing. He hoped the next year would be his comeback, but he didn’t make the Olympic team and, later that year, tore his Achilles tendon.

"Not only athletically were my dreams challenged, but financially I was challenged," Conway said. "It challenged every aspect of me. I learned there’s more inside me than the ability to be a one-hit wonder."

So, he searched within and found another passion – motivational speaking. He has his own company, Overcoming Obstacles Inc., and travels the country talking to students and corporate executives.

He shared his background growing up as a kid in Shreveport in poverty with family members who used drugs and sisters who had children while still in high school.

"I had every conceivable circumstance not to do anything with my life … but the thing is, I made different choices. … What you have to accomplish is bigger than your circumstances," Conway said.

It was an attempt to get a girlfriend that led him to become an athlete. He couldn’t make the cut for the football team and nearly made the basketball team. He said his first jump over the bar for the high jump landed him out of the pit and onto the ground.

"The coach had to bring me home," he said. "There was no evidence that I would be anything."

However, slowly, practice after practice, the bar rose higher.

"By the time I got to USL, I was jumping seven feet, six inches, my freshmen year."

While at UL, Conway was a six-time All-American. He won the silver in high jump at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 while he was still a student and in 1992, won the bronze in Barcelona.

At UL, Conway was an athletic coordinator for students and taught athletes academic skills. On Friday, several student athletes attended Conway’s presentation.

It wasn’t the first time that Luke Aubrey, a freshman on UL’s football team, heard Conway speak.

"I respect the man for everything he did," said Aubrey, a freshman majoring in finance. Last year, Conway spoke at Aubrey’s high school, Teurlings Catholic. The Olympic athlete left an impression.

"I remember being impressed with his work ethic and his having a desire for what he does," Aubrey said.

Many athletes taking a study skills attended the presentation by the Olympic athlete.

"We felt it would be good for them to listen to a former student athelte who’s accomplished so much," said Lane Luneau, academic counselor in the Student Athlete Academic Center.

The academic center has a "wall of fame" reserved for Conway, said student worker, Danica McKeever.

"He’s a great man, and I’m proud to be able to attach his accomplishments to UL," said McKeever, a senior majoring in secondary education.

Originally published October 29, 2005