Dalilah Muhammad, Benjamin N. Cardozo High School ‘08, is an Olympic Track & Field Gold Medalist who was born and raised in Jamaica, Queens. She got a scholarship to study and run track at the University of Southern California, where she competed with the USC Trojans track team.
At the Pacific-10 Conference meet she was runner-up in the 400 meter hurdles, fourth in the 4×400-meter relay, and also set a personal record of 13.79 seconds as a finalist in the 100-meter hurdles. She ended her career at USC as the school’s third fastest ever 400 meter hurdler and a four-time NCAA All-American. At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, she won gold in the 400 meter hurdles.
Dalilah’s family always knew she’d be a great runner– at only 8 months old, she took her first steps by running from one couch in their living room to another. She went to Cardozo for the dance program, where she could also do track and cheer while participating in dance.
At Cardozo, she competed in the hurdles, sprints, high jump, and other track and field events. Her skills were recognized nationally even while she was still a student; in 2007, she was named the New York State Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year, and she won 2008 New York State and Nike Outdoor Nationals titles in the 400 Meter hurdles all before graduating high school.
While at USC, Dalilah majored in business. She found an interest in advertising and marketing when she was in elementary school, after watching Mel Gibson’s What Women Want. “Track has helped me do everything I dreamed of doing when I was a kid,” Dalilah says of her experiences modelling, travelling the world, and competing in the Olympics.
She doesn’t get as nervous as she used to before races, but she still has to tell herself to stop overthinking. “Your mind plays a huge role in what you’re able to do on the track.” She attributes much of her success to her confidence and ability to set specific goals to build from, like aiming for the World Championship or making the Olympic Team. “I didn’t just want to win, I wanted no one to be next to me at the finish line.”