From Walmart Employee To Olympic Hopeful: Here’s How Dylan Beard Is Overcoming Hurdles

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February 11 is a date that Dylan Beard will probably never forget. At this year’s Millrose Games in New York City, Beard won big in the 60-meter hurdles, setting a personal record on top of a record for the facility with the third-fastest time in the world. What’s even more remarkable is that track and field isn’t Beard’s only gig—he works as a full-time employee behind the deli counter at Walmart.

This win catapulted Beard to the national stage, and he’s in training to compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympic track and field team for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France.

Beard had sat down with ESSENCE in the midst of his busy schedule working and training to discuss his journey, goals and aspirations, and favorite Olympic moments.

“My goal was to build off what I did last year, and with the Olympic games this year I obviously wanted to make the team, but I had no idea this would be my 2024, so it’s been truly a blessing,” Olympic hopeful Dylan Beard told ESSENCE.

During a TODAY interview, Beard said, “I think I went in a lot more relaxed, like nothing to lose, a lot to gain.”

Currently, Beard remains an unsponsored athlete, working his “day job” to support himself and keep competing, but hopefully, that changes soon. His goal is to compete “for prize money as well as just to up my status in the world [of track and field].”

This is Beard’s tenth year hurdling. “I started training for it in 2013 and competing in 2014 back when I was at Archbishop Spalding High School. My coach said, ‘just try to hop over hurdles’ and that’s what I did. He said, ‘we can always fix everything later, as long as you can get over the hurdles now,’” the Baltimore native shared.

Beard followed up that introduction to hurdles and ran with it all the way to college. “I was blessed to be able to do seven years as a Division I athlete, instead of the normal four. I started my first year at Wagner College in 2016, did two years there and transferred in 2018 to Hampton University where I got a degree in biochemistry.” But then the COVID-19 pandemic happened, and Beard lost two years competing, “at that point, I decided to transfer again as a graduate and I was able to go to Howard University and meet former Olympian David Oliver, as well as the rest of the coaching staff at Howard and it really shaped me up to be where I’m at today as a professional,” stated Beard.

Although there’s been a lot of change in the last year, for Beard, “It’s my first year out of school, and the only difference is instead of going to classes, doing homework projects, I’m practicing and going to work. Training wise, there’s no difference—it’s still the same goals. We’re still competing to win, no matter what race it is, we want to drop those times down and get a little better each time we race and practice. That’s really the main goal; it’s just now a bigger goal, and then maybe a few more eyes are watching.”

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