Sometimes the big decisions in one’s life come early. 

“I was in eighth grade,” said Omar Craddock. “Being from Killeen and living in Texas, a football state, of course I thought about playing football. But then track chose me. I started participating in track, enjoyed success at it — and that major decision was made.”

He hasn’t looked back since.

While attending school in Killeen, Craddock captured the 2008 UIL Class 4A state championship in the triple jump.

And then Craddock made the, uh, jump to college.

And before Craddock graduated from the University of Florida in 2014, he had become the top collegiate triple jumper in America, capturing three NCAA championships along with five SEC titles.

Now, as a professional, Craddock, age 24, is in familiar territory: He is ranked No. 1 in America.

In March, Craddock took first place in the 2015 USA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Boston, posting a distance of 55 feet, 3 inches.

In June, Craddock took first place in the 2015 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, in Eugene, Ore., traveling a distance of 57 feet, 6¼ inches.

So, what’s left?

“I’m going for the world record,” Craddock said.

Craddock was selected by USA Track and Field to represent Team USA on Aug. 26-27 at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing.

Craddock, currently ranked No. 3 in the world, will leave Florida for Beijing on Aug. 19.

No, he’s not leaping to Beijing. He’ll go the conventional route and take a plane.

“I’m very confident heading into this big event,” Craddock said. “I’m not nervous at all. I made it to this event in 2013 when it was held in Moscow, and things didn’t happen for me then. But now I’m ready to go. All nervousness is out the window. The world record is 60 feet and a quarter inch — I’m going after that.

“In this sport, it only takes one excellent jump. I get six attempts. I’m as focused as I’ve ever been.”

Craddock has already qualified for the Olympic trials which will be held next June.

“Of course I’m excited to try and get to the 2016 Olympics,” Craddock said. “But, first, I’m focused on Beijing.

“I had to deal with some injuries in 2014 but I feel great now. With my performances this year in Boston and Eugene, I feel I re-solidified who I am. Things are falling into place for me now.

“My decision is to keep looking forward, always remaining confident. I’m going for it all — the world record.”

And who can doubt Craddock?

Once he makes a decision, positive things happen.

Contact Allan Mandell at or 254-501-7566 and read his column at

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