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Woman on the Move: Norma Hudnall ’72, M ’74, M ’80

As one of five children, Norma Hudnall jokes that she comes from a long line of overachievers. Today at 68, the former counselor is still competing.

Hudnall runs a 7:18 mile, and last spring, the Spartanburg resident competed in the World Masters Indoor Track and Field Championships representing Team USA and the Atlanta Track Club. She took home the bronze in the triple jump and long jump, placed seventh in the 800-
meter race and took sixth in both the 1,500- and 3,000-meter races.

“I couldn’t do it without the peer pressure of my 5:30 a.m. running group,” Hudnall says about her rigorous training schedule that keeps her in top form.

But having competitive sports open to her wasn’t always a given. Hudnall competed in high school tennis, but when she came to Clemson in 1968, no women’s sports were recognized by the NCAA.

“I was dating this guy who was on the fencing team, and they let me fence with them,” she says. But awards weren’t hers to take home. Despite the roadblock, she feels like she’s making up for lost time now.

She began racing at age 40. Since then, she’s run 10 full marathons, including ones in Boston, Honolulu and Ireland.  When she turned 60, she started running for the Atlanta Track Club, competing in her most recent events in South Korea. “I just decided to start experimenting with steeplechase and triple jump, and quite frankly, it’s just more fun to compete in more than one thing.”

Hudnall says naysayers who worry about injury or ailments keeping them from pursuing similar endeavors shouldn’t have so much trepidation. “One of my problems has been arthritis, and the first line of treatment for arthritis is exercise. I have severe scoliosis and spinal stenosis, and exercise can only make it better. Running can be therapeutic. But there’s also walking or water aerobics or cross training. Exercise is a good injury preventer as you age.” And that’s sage advice from an overachiever who hits the track every morning.

Golden Girl: Brianna Rollins ’13


One, two, three — jump. One, two, three — jump. With a fierce face and a breakneck pace, former Clemson track standout Brianna Rollins lunged across the finish line. A time of 12.48 seconds earned Rollins a gold medal in the 100-meter hurdles at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August. Right behind her were USA teammates Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin in second and third place. “It was awesome feeling to have to my teammates up there on the podium alongside me. We made history and I couldn’t have been happier to share it with Nia and Kristi. Kristi and I train together, and Nia is a really good friend of mine. It just goes to show you that if women can come together as one we can accomplish something huge.”

After catching their breath, the women draped their bodies in three American flags and jumped for joy for the cameras and the television crowds back home. It was the first time three American women claimed all three medals in a track and field event in the Olympics.

Rollins isn’t new to claiming victories. In 2011 and 2013 she was the NCAA indoor champion in the 60-meter hurdles, the 2014 NCAA outdoor champion in the 100-meter hurdles, and the 2013 IAAF world champion in the 100-meter hurdles while still a student at Clemson. But it wasn’t until her time at Clemson that she realized she could compete at an elite level. Rollins didn’t begin competing in the sport until she was in high school in her hometown of Miami. In 2012, as a sophomore at Clemson, she made the Olympic Trials. In the next months she earned a win at the NACAC Under-23 championships. From there she blossomed into the runner she is today.

“At the 2012 Olympic trials is when I realized I could compete on the professional level. I had the second fastest time coming back in the finals at the trials. I finished sixth in the finals but seeing that I was competing with the professional and running so close gave me the hope I needed,” she said. “Training as an elite-level athlete is a blessing; it comes with a lot of hard work, sacrifices, commitment, and focus but it is all worth it when the reward is being an Olympic champion and an inspiration to those who look up to me.”

Rollins is the second female from Clemson to win a gold in track and field and the first Clemson athlete to win an individual Olympic gold medal since 2004. Kim Graham won a medal as a member of the 4×100- meter relay team in 1996 and Shaw Crawford won the 200-meter dash in 2004. Nine athletes from Clemson have gone on to win Olympic gold.

Rollins is currently training for the next 2017 World Championships in London and hopes defend her title in Tokyo in the 2020 Olympics.