It takes some people their entire lives to figure out where they excel. For a select few, they know they are going to be great at something from the day they’re born.
For South Forsyth’s Chris Nelson, he said his parents knew before he was born that he was going to be fast.
“I was really just born and was fast,” Nelson said. “All my family is athletic. My brother ran track at Western Kentucky … we’re all really fast. Am I the fastest rising junior in the state? Oh yeah.”
Nelson proved that running was his calling after winning the Class 7A 200-meter state title. Nelson was one of the favorites to win the 100-meter sprint, but was disqualified for an early start off the blocks.
“I always thought about me being a state champion,” Nelson said. “I didn’t think I’d win it this year. Going into it, I really think it was my mentality. I’m only a sophomore running against seniors, so I’m already kind of nervous. Once I opted out of the 100m, my mentality was down and I didn’t really care about winning that much.”
However, Nelson regained his confidence after finding out the winners of every event won a trophy in the form of a ring. All Nelson could think of after seeing it was, ‘I gotta win.’
Nelson’s sophomore year was only his third year of organized sports. He did not start track until his eighth-grade year and was not sure if he would enjoy it.
“I wasn’t paying attention to any sports other than football,” Nelson said. “When they realized I was super fast, I still didn’t want to try out for track. When I gave it a chance, I realized I was pretty good. I still didn’t want to do track at South at first, but I’m glad they forced me to do it.”
His athleticism was enough to get by for the first couple practices, but once South boys head coach Austin Hamilton saw Nelson’s potential, he had to start perfecting his form.
“I didn’t have the form,” Nelson said. “I have the speed down, but I can’t do anything without fundamentals. Coach Hamilton is teaching me that. I used to not even come out of the blocks.”
In fact, Nelson went as far to say without his relationship with Hamilton, he is unsure of whether he would have won a state ring.
“Without Coach Hamilton, I don’t think I would’ve gone as far as I did,” Nelson said. “He’s so fun. He feels like he’s our age. I can talk to him however I want to talk to him. At the same time, when it comes to doing what we need to do, he doesn’t let us slack around. We have to do our work.”
Nelson’s twin brother, Josh, also runs on the track team and placed fifth in the 200m state championship.
However, Nelson said his brother is the least of his worries; his only focus is filling his trophy case with state rings for the next two years.
“If you go in thinking you’re not going to win, you probably won’t win,” Nelson said. “As long as I keep my mind straight, I’m going to compete at the highest level. I know when I walk in, people will know that I won it last year. So, I’ve got to come back and win it this year. If I come out and lose, I’m going to feel some type of way.”