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Nixon athlete of week

Gunnar Nixon

Gunnar Nixon

INDIANAPOLIS – University of Arkansas freshman Gunnar Nixon has been named USA Track and Field’s Athlete of the Week after setting a world junior record in the indoor heptathlon over the weekend at the Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark., and reached an NCAA automatic-qualifying mark.

In the first multi-event of his collegiate career, Nixon scored 6,022 points to pass the 5,953-point mark set by Michael Kohnle of West Germany in 1989. Nixon’s performance also gives him the American junior record, Arkansas school record and makes him the only junior competitor age 20 and under to pass the 6,000-point mark in a heptathlon.

Nixon recorded personal bests in each event in the first day and credited that in reaching the world mark. Nixon was unaware of what the world record was until his coach told him shortly before the 1,000 meters, which was the final event of the competition.

“The first day rolled off pretty smooth,” he said, mentioning he only needed to run 2:46 in the 1,000m to set the record, which was well slower than his personal best of 2:37.  “After the first day, I had breaking 6,000 points in mind. I had no idea what the world junior record was. I thought it would have been a little bit higher. Hopefully this is just the starting point. I have two more heptathlons this year and I know I can do better.”

Now in its eleventh year, USATF’s Athlete of the Week program is designed to recognize outstanding performers at all levels of the sport. USATF names a new honoree each week and features the athlete on Selections are based on top performances and results from the previous week.

2012 Winners: January 5, Landon Peacock; January 11, Kirubel Erassa; January 18, Shalane Flanagan; January 26, John Nunn; February 1, Gunnar Nixon.