What are the chances?
What are the chances three men raised on the small Caribbean island of the Bahamas would decide their best option for college athletics was at a small NAIA university in Dickinson?
What are the chances those men would become three of the best athletes to ever walk the halls of Dickinson State University?
What are the chances all three would find great success on the international track and field stage?
Over the next two weeks, DSU will have three alumni — Derrick Atkins, Trevor Barry and Ramon Miller — competing at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
“It’s quite a distinction,” Barry said. “It’s quite a feat in itself, to have three athletes from such a small school to be in the Olympics.”
Atkins runs in the 100 meters and Miller in the 400 meters beginning Saturday, Aug. 4. Barry’s Olympics begin with the high jump qualifying on Sunday, Aug. 5. Miller is also a member of the Bahamas 1,600 relay team that starts Thursday, Aug. 9.
Blue Hawks head track and field coach Pete Stanton said having three former athletes — who combined for 27 individual NAIA national titles and helped DSU win national championships in 2004, 2005 and 2006 — competing at the Olympics is a massive accomplishment for any school, let alone one of DSU’s size.
“It’s a pretty incredible achievement for those three guys to be former members of our team and now all three are competitive at the world level,” Stanton said. “It’s not just a thing that they’re there, but all three are in a situation where they have a chance to be in the finals and be very competitive at a world level.”
Atkins, 28, was at his peak in 2007 when he won a silver medal in the 100 meters at the World Championships. He went to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing but lost out in the semifinals.
After a couple of years beset by injuries, he made his Olympic return by running a qualifying time of 10.09 seconds June 9 in Clermont, Fla.
Barry, 29, won a bronze medal in the high jump at the 2011 World Championships with a leap of 7 feet, 7¼ inches (2.32 meters) and ranks among the best in the world in his event. He’s making his first Olympic trip after falling short of qualifying for Beijing by 1 centimeter.
Miller, 25, is back at the Olympics after leaving Beijing with a silver medal. He competed in the semifinals for the Bahamas 1,600 relay team that went on to place second in the finals. This year’s Bahamas mile relay team, on which Miller is a featured member, is ranked in the top five of the world standings.
Miller actually qualified in three events, but chose not to compete in the 200 meters.
Nonetheless, he will become the first DSU alumnus of the four who have been to the Olympics — Aaron Cleare was on the Bahamas mile relay team at the 2004 Athens Olympics — to compete in two different events.
Like many Olympians, the men haven’t been without their trials and tribulations.
Atkins and Miller fought off injuries and subpar years before bouncing back to reach London. Barry, meanwhile, has made a steady climb toward becoming one of the world’s best high jumpers.
The trio has even provided a point of pride for DSU, which could use some after a school year marred by the firing of President Richard McCallum following a devastating audit that found hundreds of international students received bogus degrees. There were also violations against the volleyball team for improper payments to students.
The school’s pride in their Olympians has been expressed through the “Team DSU” promotional campaign this summer and DSU President D.C. Coston said the trio, who are all graduates, are shining examples of what it means to be a successful student-athlete.
“We’re very excited that three Dickinson State alumni will be competing in the Olympics, that along with the great things that other graduates have done, it’s great to see that Dickinson State is also a place where athletic success can accompany academic success,” Coston said.
Miller said he is glad to have defied critics who questioned why he chose DSU — a place where some believe the weather is too cold to groom world-class track athletes, he said — and now points to himself, and his Bahamian Olympic teammates as examples of how an athlete can find success, even out of somewhere as small as DSU.
“It shows that if anybody goes there, they can do the same thing,” Miller said.
Miller, Atkins and Barry have proven there’s always a chance.