“You can’t keep a good high-jumper down, I like to say, ” says former two-time Olympian, Hollis Conway.
Conway, now in his mid-50s is too humble to credit himself. But, ask anyone who the best high-jumper was in the country, just over 30 years ago – they’re pointing directly at Hollis Conway.
“I’m old now, ” Conway jokes. “I get more famous during the Olympic years. Probably in year two or three after the Olympics, they kind of forget who I am. I competed when there was still East and West Germany.”
His sense of humor will never go away. Just like the memories of standing in front of giant crowds, competing in the high-jump on a worldwide stage, representing the United States.
“I remember the flying over the Olympic village, ” says Conway. “The Opening Ceremonies. The competition. I remember those emotions in each one. I remember the Olympic trials in Atlanta when I didn’t make the team. I remember how much that hurt and having to watch the Atlanta Olympics. I remember I went through a period where I didn’t watch track anymore. I was either angry, depressed, or frustrated.”
Hard to believe a silver medalist from Seoul – a bronze from Barcelona, was even upset. He ultimately recovered.
“When I was in Monroe, J.D. Malone and I were really good friends, ” recalls Conway. “So, you’re kind of paying attention. And, I used to work with a lot of kids at the school. And, they used to call me after practice. So, I still felt connected at that level. And, I was still doing some high-jump camps across the country. And, then I moved back down here when I was Athletic Director, where track and field was my sport, that I monitored. And, just getting involved on a daily basis from every aspect of it. And, then it just got really exciting.”
The graduate of the now defunct Fair Park High School in Shreveport can recall a time when he didn’t know which sport to pursue.
“I was always really skinny and I just didn’t have much, ” Conway jokes. “And, I wanted to be popular. I wanted a girlfriend. And, I figured the only way that was going to happen is that I needed to be a famous athlete. So, my heart was in football. I wanted to be an inside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers. And so, I went out for football. Then, I got cut. And, then I tried out for basketball. And, I got cut. I went out for track. And, I tried every event. And, the only thing I made the team in was the high-jump.”
Two Olympic trips, and dozens of awards later, everything worked out for Conway. The now 54-year old recently had some new additions to the family.
“I found out my high school girlfriend’s daughter was mine, ” says Conway. “Found out she was 28-years old. She’s 34 now. But, it’s been an incredible relationship. And, she has three beautiful kids. So, I went from having three daughters to four daughters. And, having zero grandkids to three grandkids.”
Looking back on all of the Olympic memories, all of that is just minute in the world of Hollis Conway.
“I appreciate everything, ” says Conway. “Everything is special. You realize nothing is guaranteed. And, we need to learn to be more appreciative not just of the big moments, but, the little things. That’s what really makes life worth living.”