Payne looks to gain another Olympic shot

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(This story will also appear in an upcoming edition of the Tri County Press/ as my day (and night) job entails covering high school and community sports. David Payne is a former Wyoming High School Cowboy.)

WYOMING Like his former University of Cincinnati and 2008 Olympic teammate Mary Wineberg, David Payne is making another run at a medal.

The former Wyoming Cowboy turns 30 in July, but is training in the Orlando area at Disney's Wide World of Sports where "Mickey" brings out the youth in all.

"I'm a little bit older, but I'm more mentally strong," Payne said.

Payne already owns a proclamation from Cincinnati, the key to Wyoming, UC track records, a Conference USA (2004) athlete of the year award and a silver in Beijing (13.17), but still thirsts to drink from the proverbial "fountain of youth".
david payne.jpg
(Courtesy of Payne, far right, wins silver in Beijing)

Four years after his last Olympic taste, he feels his chances are as good as any.

"I think it's always tough because you have the top athletes in the U.S.," Payne said. "I don't think it's any more competitive than it was in '08. I think guys are running really well right now, but it'll still be the exact same as it was in '08, which is don't get in my own way and just handle my business."

His first preliminary race in Eugene, Oregon, is June 29. The altitude and conditions are a little different than Florida, but Payne is a veteran of such changes.

"It's not that bad, but a lot of people go out about four days before the race so they can get on the track and get used to the weather," Payne said.

With a medal in hand already and countless trips over numerous hurdles on and off the track, Payne still has the swagger of a younger man.

"Hurdlers don't really hit their peak 'til about 28 to 30," Payne said. "Every time you run them (the hurdles) you learn new things and you run better every year. Some of the best hurdlers didn't finish running 'til they were 35-36 like Allen Johnson, Renaldo Nehemiah, Gail Devers. We have a little longer lifespan than the average sprinter."

A lot of Payne's demeanor and presence comes from his time around UC coach Bill Schnier. Payne's 2004 marks of 13.42 in the 110 hurdles and 51.16 in the 400 hurdles still stand and are posted on the Gettler Stadium walls.

"It was a confirmation of what's going on right now," Payne said of his time as a Bearcat. "I had everything I needed at that place and it molded me into the person I am now."

Payne's track exploits started at Wyoming where he ran the 110 hurdles and was in the 4x100 and 4x400 relay. A cautious mother kept him from exploring other athletic options.

"I played soccer for a short period of time, but I started to injure my leg so my mom didn't want me to play anymore," Payne said. "Who knows what would've happened if I had played football. They were like, 'Come out for two-a-days and see how you like it. We could use you for special teams, kickoff returns and wide receiver.' It was so hot and I couldn't deal with the two-a-days. I just couldn't do it."

His travels since have extended long beyond Wyoming and Pendery Avenue and plans to continue as long as he can.

"I've been to like 30 countries more than once," Payne said. "I've been to Rome like four times, Paris four times, Japan three times, I can't even name a lot of the countries I've been to more than once. It's a greaty way to get around the world and I'm very blessed to be more intelligent internationally since I've been running track."

All of those places are a long way from Tri-County and from his training digs in Florida. Still, the former co-feature of the UC Homecoming parade (with Mary Wineberg) and Oktoberfest Chicken Dance leader (again with Wineberg) looks forward to a triumphant return to the Queen City.

"I love Cincinnati," Payne said. "Hopefully, when I do come home, I'll be bringing back another medal."

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