Former LSU track star Vernon Norwood is seeking an authentic Olympic experience this summer

It was Vernon Norwood’s senior year at Morgan City High School, and the fledgling sprinter had just posted one of his best times at a meet.

He was only in his second year training as a runner, but he was optimistic that the impressive showing could help propel his track career.

But after the race, Norwood found out he had been disqualified for stepping on a lane line, dealing what he thought would be a major blow to his college recruitment.

“People didn’t get to see that time because it got wiped away immediately after I got disqualified,” Norwood tells 225. “A lot of (schools) didn’t know how good I really was. … And I didn’t really have plans on going to the next level.”

A dozen years later, that slip-up was just a small speed bump in the lengthy and impressive road Norwood has since run. This summer, the New Orleans native, 32, is looking to add to his accolades in his second Olympics.

Norwood wound up at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, for two years before transferring to LSU. His list of collegiate accomplishments is too long to spell out here, but it’s highlighted by four NCAA titles in just two seasons in Baton Rouge.

He turned pro in 2015 and has since claimed eight medals at world championship events, six of them gold, while training at LSU.

Norwood also took home a gold medal for Team USA at the 2020 Tokyo Games in the 4×400 relay and a bronze medal in the 4×400 mixed relay—milestones he’d never dreamt of back in high school.

“A lot of kids nowadays have these dreams of wanting to be Olympians, or being a pro and all that stuff,” Norwood says. “I just came into school doing every single thing I was told to do and being consistent with it. … It’s been a wonderful ride, and I don’t take it for granted.”


Something Norwood hopes to appreciate in Paris this summer is a true Olympic experience. The 2020 Olympic Games were postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic, uprooting training plans. And once there, athletes dealt with health safety measures. There was no big opening ceremony; they weren’t competing in front of fans and couldn’t interact with other athletes.

Today, he’s ready to compete at the highest level and get that authentic experience.

“This deep into my career, I continue to try to be consistent every day and take care of my body,” Norwood says. “I have to be ready to go out there and represent my country.”

This article was originally published in the June 2024 issue of 225 Magazine.