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Elija Godwin cherishes hometown’s support on 'Elija Godwin Day'
Godwin Day
The Covington City Council proclaimed that Sept. 10 will be “Elija Godwin” Day during the 2022 Fuzz Run’s festivities. - photo by Special Photo

COVINGTON, Ga. — Elija Godwin returned to the only place he calls home on Saturday, Sept. 10 to serve as the starter for the Covington Fuzz Run. 

Godwin also received a special recognition from Covington’s city council by way of a proclamation that made Sept. 10 “Elija Godwin” day. 

Though Godwin was given notice of the special honor, he was still surprised by the outpouring of support he received on Saturday. 

“What caught me off guard, and it’s kinda surreal thinking about it now, was the amount of people who were backing me,” Godwin said. “How many people showed up to the Fuzz Run and knew who I was and they were watching the Olympics last year, the World Championships this year. I know I got a lot of eyes on me. It’s a bigger purpose than me.” 

Covington is the only place Godwin has ever lived, which is the way his mom, Ginger Luby intended it to be. 

When Luby was growing up, she moved around a lot. Therefore, she never was able to settle into one place but, instead, was constantly moving to different schools and communities. 

She didn’t like that, and she set out to create something different for her children. 

So, Luby bought a home in Covington across from Veterans Memorial Middle School and West Newton Elementary School to raise her three children: Elija, his brother Okon Godwin and his sister, Kyaundra Ward. 

As a result, Elija has a deep appreciation for his hometown. 

“I was able to meet people in my neighborhood and find family through my friendships,” he said. “I was able to establish myself in this community and build my name in Covington.” 

Godwin has gone outside of Newton County and made a name for himself, too. 

After graduating from Newton High School in 2018, he enrolled at the University of Georgia and joined the Bulldogs’ track and field team. 

In 2019, he was named the Southeastern Conference Co-Men’s Freshman Runner of the Year. A year later, he made the NCAA Outdoor First Team All-American for the 4x100 relay team. 

Godwin’s talent took him far beyond his wildest dreams the past two years, though. 

Participating in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Godwin earned the bronze medal in the mixed 4x400 relay. This year, he was named a 2022 NCAA Indoor First-Team All-American in the 4x400 relay. 

All of this came after Godwin nearly lost his life when he was accidentally impaled by a javelin during a workout at UGA in May 2019.

Experiencing all of this success didn’t make Godwin forget where he came from. 

“That’s been part of my “Why,’” Godwin said. “It’s the ‘why’ behind all of the grinding behind being a high profile athlete and all it takes.” 

Godwin has made it a point to not become like other people before him who didn’t value Covington as their hometown. 

“Growing up in Covington, a lot of people claim to be from different places as if they weren’t proud of where they were from,” Godwin said. “And, at certain times, that used to get to me, because I didn’t understand why. But once I matured out of that and started making my own name in my community, I started to cherish my hometown.” 

Of all the success and accolades Godwin’s received, getting a whole day named in his honor in Covington is held in high regard. 

And, even though at times it doesn’t seem real, getting that honor bestowed upon him has motivated Godwin even more. 

“It doesn’t really hit you how big that is at the moment,” Godwin said. “A few days removed, I’m back in training, my focus has switched and my tunnel vision has settled in on training. My support system has helped keep me grounded and make sure I appreciate what’s going on as well as everybody else.” 

Now, Godwin will resume his track and field career at UGA in hopes of continuing to make his hometown and family proud. 

But, more than that, Godwin believes he can serve as an example to future generations of star athletes who come from Newton County. Which, for Godwin, is what “Elija Godwin” Day symbolizes. 

“I already thought highly of where I came from and I experienced what [Newton County] had to offer,” Godwin said. “And I always wanted to go beyond that and show people that were coming from Newton County that they are capable of success just like anyone else.”