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‘Bigger than the Super Bowl’: Covington native coaches in Olympic Games
By Phillip B. Hubbard
Chris Woods
Chris Woods (left), who is the head track and field coach at Mississippi State, was a personal coach to Marco Arop (right), of the Canadian Olympic team.(Contributed Photo)

Coach in the Olympics – check! 

A Covington native checked off a personal goal this year. Chris Woods took his coaching talents to the big stage of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics from July 25 – Aug. 8. 

Woods is the head track and field coach at his alma mater, Mississippi State University. During the Olympics, he was the personal coach to Marco Arop who was a member of the Canadian track and field Olympic team. 

This experience was like no other for Woods.

“For track and field athletes and coaches the Olympic Games are bigger than going to the Super Bowl,” Woods said. “The difference is, you have the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl every year. The Olympics, you only have one crack at it every four years.”

While in Tokyo, Woods had a front row seat to the world’s best athletes competing at the highest level. Not only did he get the opportunity to coach, but he had a few former athletes he coached competing as well. 

Former Bulldogs were members of the U.S., Canada, Portugal and Grenada Olympic teams. This is quite an accomplishment, Woods recognized. 

Seeing his former student-athletes succeed on any level is his favorite part of coaching. 

“For the collegiate student-athletes, the most satisfying thing to watch as a coach is the overall growth of young adults,” Woods said. “For the professional athletes, it is really special to watch someone put his/her all into something and watching them develop into one of the best on the planet as what he/she does. There’s almost 7 billion on earth, and to be in the top-32 (Olympic standard), is a tremendous feat.” 

As the head coach of the Bulldogs track and field team, Woods specifically focuses on middle distances. That’s actually how he was presented this opportunity because Arop also runs middle distances, specifically the 800 meters. 

Though coaching in the Olympics was a cool experience for Woods, he hasn’t forsaken other aspirations.  

For instance, he aims to capture an NCAA Division I National Championship for the Bulldogs. His biggest objective above all else is to help all the student-athletes that he comes in contact with earn their degrees and reach their educational milestones. 

Woods recognized the way the Newton County community helped shaped him into the person he is today. 

Now, he wants to use his stage as a way to help inspire the next generation of the Covington community. 

“I want every young person and young adult in Newton County/Covington that if I can do these things, so can you,” Woods said. “Like many of you, I come from humble beginnings, but if you are confident, educated and pour yourself into your talents, you can do anything you put your mind to doing.”