From Linden-McKinley to Tokyo: Columbus native inspires hometown pride as Olympic coach

Columbus

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – A Columbus native is making his hometown proud in Tokyo at the Olympic Games. Mike Holloway is a graduate of Linden-McKinley High School and the head coach for the U.S. Olympic Track and Field team.

“While this is an incredible honor, this is not about me. This is about the athletes and the personal coaches and the trainers and everybody else along the way that’s going to be able to get to Tokyo and kind of showcase their talents,” Holloway told NBC4’s Matt Barnes this summer before departing for Japan.

Before his time on the world stage, Holloway started as a sprinter and hurdler on the Linden-McKinley track team. In 1977, he was a member of the 440-yard relay team that earned a state title and a state record.

“It was a very exciting time,” said Eric Taylor, a teammate on the same championship relay team. “We had a group of guys that were very, very talented in this area.”

Back then, teammates and friends knew Holloway as “Mouse.” Some say the nickname came from the runner’s quiet demeanor and agility on the track.

Taylor shared his letter sweater and an album of polaroid photos from the 1977 season and a training trip to Gainesville, Florida. In 1995, Holloway began coaching in the same city at the University of Florida. Today, he’s the head coach of the combined men’s and women’s track and field team at the school.

“We laugh about it because if it wasn’t for that trip, who knows what he’d be doing,” said Taylor.

Holloway’s younger brothers say he’s always had the qualities for a coach.

“He’ll tell you like it is,” laughed Kenny Holloway. “We’re like 2 years apart, 1 and a half years, and everything we did was a competition. So I’ve got to thank him for helping me out and I helped him out too.”

“He’s been working hard ever since high school, junior high,” added Larry Holloway. “Now it’s paying off for him.”

Mike Holloway explained, “I’m a helper by nature. And coaching, for me, is about helping others reach their hopes and dreams. I just happened to be pretty good at it once I got into it.”

In Tokyo, Holloway is not coaching individual Olympians, but overseeing the entire U.S. team’s operations. Family and friends back home beam with pride talking about his accomplishments.

“Words can’t really describe how I feel about that. It’s just amazing,” Kenny Holloway said. “We grew up in the same household and now to see him on TV doing the things that he’s doing. It’s really impressive.”

Taylor added, “[He’s] gone on to do great things in not only track and field, but in life. And I think that’s what he pushes in his coaching — that there is life after track and field.”

His high school teammate and lifelong friend hopes Holloways journey from Linden-McKinley to the Olympics will inspire the next generations back home.

“He walked these same streets that they’re walking and I’m sure he’d be very proud if the next -quote-unquote- Mike Holloway would be an Olympic coach someday,” Taylor said.

Holloway said, “My message to everyone in the area, everyone who’s had a hard time in their life, there is a path out of your situation. But you’ve got to find the path, grind and stay on it.”

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