From Athens to the Olympics
1 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Marcus Maxey, an information technology specialist assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, waits to start the 110m hurdles during a track meet at Des Moines, Iowa, 2018. Maxey represented the Army in 110m hurdles as a member of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP). (Courtesy photo) (Photo Credit: Sgt. Duke Edwards) VIEW ORIGINAL
From Athens to the Olympics
2 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Marcus Maxey, an information technology specialist assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, practices his hurdle technique at the University of Oklahoma. Maxey represented the Army in 110m hurdles as a member of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP). (Courtesy photo) (Photo Credit: Sgt. Duke Edwards) VIEW ORIGINAL
From Athens to the Olympics
3 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Marcus Maxey, an information technology specialist assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, represented the Army in the 110m hurdles as a member of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP). (Courtesy photo) (Photo Credit: Sgt. Duke Edwards) VIEW ORIGINAL
From Athens to the Olympics
4 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Marcus Maxey, an information technology specialist assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, waits to start the 110m hurdles during a track meet at Des Moines, Iowa, 2018. Maxey represented the Army in 110m hurdles as a member of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP). (Courtesy photo) (Photo Credit: Sgt. Duke Edwards) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT STEWART, Ga. -- In 2019, just two weeks before COVID-19 became a global pandemic, Staff Sgt. Marcus Maxey, an information technology specialist assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, represented his country in the 110m hurdles at the 2019 Military World Games held in Wuhan, China.

Maxey shared his experience, saying, "There were many nerves before my race where it felt as if the whole ground was shaking; it was crazy. It was a surreal and beautiful feeling. I only really took everything in after the closing ceremony. It hit me then that all those summers of traveling worldwide had led me to this moment. It was surreal."

Maxey grew up in Athens, Georgia, where his journey to becoming a world-class athlete began. His father, Donald Maxey, was a track coach at his high school. Donald set many records there as an athlete, only to see his son break every single one. His father helped him develop his skills from a young age. Although he wasn't initially a highly skilled athlete, Maxey's natural drive and his father's guidance helped him become a world-class athlete.

"When Marcus was starting his 9th grade, he didn't have any plans of running track because he wasn't fond of sports and preferred reading," said Donald. "However, when he started running, I noticed his exceptional work ethic. He intensely desired to be the best and put in much effort. He was always eager to practice, even on weekends, and always gave more than 100%. His dedication and commitment were a little different from other kids."

Despite not making it to regionals in his first year of high school, Maxey would use that as motivation that would help propel him to his later success.

"I've won regionals every year since my sophomore year," said Maxey. "In my junior year, I came in second place in the state. Although I had hoped to come in first, I used that as motivation for nationals, and I ended up placing third. In my senior year, I won first place in the state and second place in nationals."

After finishing high school, Maxey had to decide where to continue his education and athletics career. He had two options: the University of Georgia (UGA) or Clemson University.

"Most people wanted me to enroll at UGA since it is located in Athens, but I opted for Clemson," Maxey recalled. "Clemson had an indoor track while UGA didn't. Having an indoor track means one can practice year-round without any hindrance, especially when it's winter. You can still do full-speed reps over hurdles. Moreover, collegiate-level athletes are mandated to participate in indoor seasons. Therefore, it's a significant advantage to have an indoor track like Clemson."

Despite his family's preference for UGA, he chose Clemson University because of its indoor track, stronger business program, and desire to keep his dreadlocks, which wouldn't have been allowed in UGA's track team then.

Although he changed his major in college, his love for track never diminished. He knew what he wanted for his future early on, and he carefully weighed the pros and cons of each university before making his decision.

"After I graduated from Clemson, I wanted to continue my career in track and field," said Maxey. "However, I needed to earn money to support myself. That's when an Army recruiter approached me and suggested I join the World Class Athlete Program (WCAP). This was a great opportunity to pursue my passion while earning a living. The recruiter advised me to enlist in the Army to take the easiest route, so I did. However, it was not as easy as it seemed."

Maxey enlisted in the Army in 2013 but did not join the WCAP until 2016. Managing his time was one of the biggest obstacles he faced in pursuing his track career while serving in the Army. The intensive training regimen of the Army left him with little time for track training, making it a challenging task for him.

"During our training at Fort Sill, we frequently traveled to different locations such as the National Training Center (NTC), White Sands, and even Colorado for our warfighter training," said Maxey. "These trips would last up to 60 days, making it challenging to keep track of my training progress. In track training, endurance, speed work, and fast-twitch muscles are crucial, and when it comes to hurdles, technique and acceleration are equally vital."

In 2016, Maxey faced difficult working hours while serving in the military. However, he integrated running into his routine before morning physical training. This allowed him to maintain his physical abilities as a runner. Ultimately, this paid off when he participated in the "Texas Relays" and qualified for the Olympics, earning him a spot in the WCAP.

"It felt surreal. It was like something that wasn't supposed to happen but got willed into existence," said Maxey. “The main thing is, if you can conceive it in your mind, you can achieve it in the physical. That happened, so I feel like there's almost nothing that I can't do.

As a retired athlete, Maxey believes adaptability is the most critical quality for hurdlers.

“They must understand their surroundings, analyze their mistakes, and learn how to accelerate faster through the barriers than their competitors,” said Maxey

Maxey mentioned that even after retiring from sports, he still possesses the characteristic of adaptability, which benefits him in his current work. Currently, Maxey works for Maj. Gen. Christopher R. Norrie, commanding general of 3rd ID, where adaptability is crucial for mission success. Maxey explains that it is their responsibility to provide necessary communication support to his boss while adapting to different situations, as his boss needs to attend various meetings.

Maxey has achieved many things in his life, but he considers becoming a father to his two daughters, Malia and Malayah, his proudest achievement.

He says, "Nothing trumps becoming a father. It's pretty awesome." Both of his daughters have shown an interest in track, and when Malia sees her father's races on TV, she cheers him on with a loud "Go, Go, Go!" Malayah is actively working out on the track, and they are hoping that she will participate in the 100m & 200m races.

Maxey credits his achievements to the unwavering support he received from his parents. "My mother, Sonuel Devlin, would frequently call me to get updates and post them on Facebook with great pride, and my father was always present," Maxey said. "He even flew out to the Olympic trials to support me."

When asked for advice that he would give Soldiers in the Army, Maxey concluded, "Take advantage of everything while you're in. Use every Army resource, knock on every door. Don't leave any stone unturned. Write your goals down, find a good mentor, it's invaluable, and push for anything you want.”