And one of the biggest takeaways is that the 2020 Olympic hopeful and his family wish the nickname “White Lighting” would disappear. Here’s the excerpt:
The attention paid to his race is the most uncomfortable part for Boling. During an hour-long interview in Collier’s office last week, Boling was open and engaging. When asked how his skin color affected perceptions of him, he glanced away and gazed toward the ground, rubbing his face.
“I don’t care or notice, but people bring it up a bunch, like on Instagram,” he said. “But I don’t really care.”
None of his friends call him White Lightning. He would like nobody else to, either. One radio interviewer asked what his nickname should be. “Matt,” Matthew replied.
“I cringed when that White Lightning thing started,” (his father) Mark said. “We’re very hopeful that will die an early death.”
His skin color may not be a defining trait, but it is an unavoidable curiosity. The seven sprinters in the blocks next to him at both the regional and state meets were black. Only one white American man — fellow Texan Jeremy Wariner, in 2004 — in the past 50 years has won an Olympic sprinting gold medal, and that was in the 400. All eight sprinters in the 100 final at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games were black.
“Of course it’s going to get him extra attention, for the same reason Tiger Woods, when he showed up, got a lot of extra attention,” former Olympic great Ato Boldon said. “I get it. Anybody who ignores that is being disingenuous. For me, your skin color might get you attention. That gets you to the party. The question is, can you dance? And this kid can dance. … Once you see him, the color of his skin is immediately going to be the last thing you think about.”
Boling, who just finished his senior year of high school in Houston, has become an overnight sensation in the track world. A true story of “life in the fast lane.” Some other highlights from the Post’s Adam Kilgore:
- Boling has a twin brother who graduated as the high school valedictorian and will attend Georgia Tech.
- Boldon, a four-time Olympic medalist sprinter, called Boling “one of the best high school athletes that we’ve seen ever.”
- Many of Boling’s childhood idols have reached out to him. NFL star Adrian Peterson, who is also from Houston, told him “If you need anything, I’m here.”
- His high school hired a police officer not in uniform to follow Boling around at the Texas state championship meet due to security concerns.
- UGA track coach Petros Kyprianou said Boling had “Carl Lewis’s long jump ability.”
- Everyone knows Boling’s UGA/NCAA career will be brief.
To read the Post’s article in its entirety, please go here.