Gator grad Grant Holloway clears academic hurdles on path to Paris Olympics

World champion and Olympian hurdler Grant Holloway is currently sprinting down the path to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. Still, he recently cleared one hurdle that had been on the horizon since the prodigious athlete moved to Gainesville in 2016: completing his bachelor’s degree at the University of Florida.

“I’ve always been a Gator fan, grew up a Gator fan, and when I had the opportunity to run track here… I just took it and ran with it,” Holloway explains. “My track career took off, but I always wanted to come back and make sure I finished my academics.”

Holloway won eight individual and three team NCAA titles for Florida before taking an extended break from school to compete professionally. He has secured an Olympic silver medal and five world titles so far and continues to strive for more. Yet, he managed to carve out time for his studies, finishing his education sciences degree program in May.

“Time management plays a huge part because I had to be ready for whatever was thrown my way,” Holloway notes in reference to juggling his schoolwork with his athletic career. “Whenever you have that free time, instead of just sitting on the couch watching TV, you gotta open up the laptop or the iPad and just slowly work away at it.”

Photo: Betsy Brzezinski for the University of Florida

Grant Holloway

Grant Holloway (BA ’24)

…bit by bit, chunk by chunk, I’m working toward that goal.

“You don’t have to complete it all in one day,” he elaborates, “but as long as I’m knocking some out, bit by bit, chunk by chunk, I’m working toward that goal.”

On paper, he is a world-renowned athletic superstar. In person, he’s casually confident, charismatic, and approachable. Holloway talks about his life through an optimistic yet remarkably practical lens, whether discussing his suburban childhood, intense training regimen or pending plans for the future.

The track and field record breaker continually strives to impart positivity, stating, “My goal as a human being is, regardless of who I’m talking to, I want to leave you in a more positive mindset than you were when we first started talking.”

That positive attitude extended to Holloway’s volunteer work with several local elementary schools over the years. As the son of a teacher, he saw classroom visits as a great opportunity to contribute to the community. “I’ve always worked well with kids,” Holloway mentions. His message to students was simple: If they worked hard and listened to their teachers, they could accomplish anything they set out to do.

Photo: Mallory Peak/University Athletic Association

Grant Holloway during the Tom Jones Memorial Invitational on Saturday, April 13, 2024 at Percy Beard Track at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. / UAA Communications photo by Mallory Peak

Obtaining his degree as a professional athlete has had its challenges. When asked about his most significant obstacle in completing his degree requirements, he explains, “I travel … to get paid; I have to go overseas. Having that six-hour gap between Europe and America is definitely tough.” It took constant communication with his professors to ensure his work and school schedules were aligned.

Holloway admits that there was a time when completing his studies was not a priority, but staying grounded amidst his increasing success and fame helped him finish what he’d started. Becoming an Olympian, getting endorsement deals, and doing commercials made him feel like he was “living the Hollywood dream. But at some point,” he cautions, “we always wake up from a good dream, whether we want to or not. That is when you hit reality.”

It is a surprisingly balanced approach for an athlete in his prime. However, preparing for unexpected hurdles is Holloway’s strong suit.

“That was my ultimate goal, to have something to fall back on,” he shares. “I was able to further my education, to further myself, and at the end of the day show … that even with a crazy schedule, I was able to accomplish this.”

The Olympic contender expects to remain in Gainesville for the rest of his professional career but otherwise admits that he tries not to make too many plans for the future.

“I like to sit back and just let life be life,” he remarks. “We always want to have this blueprint, but we never know what’s going to happen.”

While life is full of uncertainties, the Gator Nation can rest assured about one thing: This Gator great and UF alumnus will be remembered as one of the most impressive and accomplished athletes of all time.