Dalilah Muhammad, Benjamin N. Cardozo High School ’08: Olympic Track & Field Gold Medalist
Dalilah Muhammad’s parents always knew she’d be a great runner. At only 8 months old, she took her first steps by sprinting between their living room couches. 26 years later, she became a gold medal winner at the 2016 Summer Olympics in the 400 meter hurdles.
Born and raised in Jamaica, Queens, Dalilah went to Cardozo High School initially for the dance program where she could also be a cheerleader and run track. Her skills were first recognized nationally while she was still a student; in 2007, she was named the New York State Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year, and she won 2008 New York State and Nike Outdoor Nationals titles in the 400 Meter hurdles all before graduating from high school.
Dalilah’s national titles helped her earn a scholarship to study and run track at the University of Southern California, where she competed with the USC Trojans track team. She majored in business, and ended her career at USC as the school’s third fastest ever 400 meter hurdler and a four-time NCAA All-American.
“Track has helped me do everything I dreamed of doing when I was a kid,” Dalilah says of her experiences modelling, travelling the world, and competing in the Olympics.
She doesn’t get as nervous as she used to before races, but she still has to tell herself to stop overthinking. “Your mind plays a huge role in what you’re able to do on the track.”
She attributes much of her success to her confidence and ability to set specific goals to build from, like aiming for the World Championship or making the Olympic Team. “I didn’t just want to win,” she says. “I wanted no one to be next to me at the finish line.”