Kenny Selmon is a junior hurdler for the North Carolina track and field team who won his first ACC championship over the weekend in Atlanta, Ga. His 48.76 in the 400-meter hurdles is an NCAA No. 1 mark and ranks No. 2 in the United States and No. 4 in the world this season.
Selmon spoke with staff writer James Tatter about the significance of his title, the nerves of running in front of his hometown crowd, his future ambitions in the event and his text to UNC 400-meter hurdle record-holder Ken Harnden after his race.
The Daily Tar Heel: In the past five seasons, there have been only two collegiate athletes that have run faster than you in the 400-meter hurdles, including marks from World Championships and Olympic Trials. How significant does this mark feel to you personally?
Kenny Selmon: I've always run fast times. I showed up fast at nationals last year and got third, and I went 49 a couple of other times last year. But this time, it's very significant. One, because it sits amongst an eliteness that I hadn't even touched before. To be fourth in the world is just kind of surreal. It hasn't really hit me yet.
But this time is also significant because I did it at the ACC Championship. There's something to be said about showing up on the special day. Because you can run that time a million times, but I really wanted to get a title. To run that time and also get a title made that very special.
DTH: It’s not news that you are fast, especially on the national level. But did you expect to go into the race to be able to hit that kind of time?
KS: If I'm being honest, I did. I knew that if I wanted to win I would have to do something of that sort of level. I knew that Desmond (the runner-up in the event) had beaten me twice at ACCs the past years. I knew what he was capable of. My main priority going into this was that I wanted to win. I didn't want to focus on time, I wanted to win.
But I knew if I wanted to win I was going to have to drop a kind of crazy time. And so I felt like I was conditioned and I had the knowledge and ability to run that kind of time. I mean, 48.7 was shocking. I thought I was going to go 48 a little bit higher. But, I did fully expect to run sub 49 when I went into that race and that was my goal.
DTH: What was your immediate reaction when you saw the time?