Ohio State sprinter Thomas Murdaugh doesn’t let two open-heart surgeries slow him down.
“He’s obviously one of the best 400 runners in the country,” said 4-by-400-meter relay teammate Aaron Roberts. “I personally think he’s the best anchor in the country.”
Murdaugh tends to be more soft-spoken about his achievements.
“It just comes from a lot of hard work, good teammates that have been pushing me since freshman year,” Murdaugh said. “So all that’s been paying off these past few years.”
Murdaugh underwent his first heart surgery when he was 1 year old, and then had a second surgery Jan. 3, 2005.
“Once I got to high school and started getting into sports,” he said, “my sophomore year they found out I had to have another surgery, so I sat that year out of sports.”
Murdaugh since has hit the accelerator and hasn’t looked back.
“I don’t really think about it,” he said. “My family and friends, they think about it a lot. But, I mean, that’s something in the past.”
His progress impressed coach Robert Gary.
“Since he arrived here his freshman year has been a huge, huge surprise,” Gary said. “He wasn’t even a state champion and ended up his freshman year sixth in the country in the 400. He’s brought us back in a million relays.”
One of Murdaugh’s most impressive rallies came in the Jesse Owens Classic on April 24. When his team trailed the Venezuelan national team in the third leg of the 4-by-400-meter relay race, Murdaugh didn’t panic.
“I know the responsibility being an anchor,” Murdaugh said. “So if we’re not in the front, it’s to get us to the front. If we are, it’s to keep it. I just keep that in my mind and just try not to let my teammates down.”
Like Gary expected, Murdaugh pulled through, finishing the race more than two seconds ahead of his competition.
“I’ve never seen him lose anything that’s close,” Gary said.
At the Jim Click Shootout in early April at Arizona, Murdaugh posted a season-best 400-meter time of 45.81 seconds, a full second faster than his best indoor performance, and just three-hundredths of a second slower than his personal record. Over his career, Murdaugh has remained consistent.
“He’s been one of the dominant guys in the Big Ten,” Gary said. “He’s plateaued a little bit. … When you start running that fast, it’s kind of hard to have this huge, linear explosion.”
Murdaugh has trained tirelessly to reach his peak.
“It took me a while to get to that point,” he said. “It takes a lot of training, a lot of hard work, just a lot of pain. But you know it pays off in the end.”
Despite his teammates’ high praise, Murdaugh said he’s just honored to be a part of the OSU team.
“It means a lot just to be a part of Ohio State athletics,” he said. “The history and the tradition in the programs that we have here, it’s just a big deal to be a part of this.”