As a seventh grader David Neville watched Michael Johnson win the 200m and 400m at the 1996 Olympics and knew he wanted to be like Mike. He had the genes (his father ran 1:48 for 800m in college) but more would be needed to reach the highest level of the sport. It started the year following the Atlanta Olympics when he joined the middle school track team and then competed for the Harlan Jets in the summer.
He enrolled as a freshman at Merrillville High School but a series of injuries during his first two years put him on the sidelines.
He returned his junior year concetrating on the 100m where he ran 10.83 at the Indiana state championships to finish seventh.
A year later he was the state champion in the 400m running 46.99 at the state finals; which still stands as the meet record. He also finished fourth in the 200m. At the Golden West Invitational in California he improved his personal best to 46.98; missing the all-time state record (Walter Monagan 1981) by 05 seconds . His time is still #3 on the Indiana all-time list. His best 200m in high school was 21.10 (#9 Indiana all-time).
As a senior he considered Ball State, Miami of Ohio, Indiana State, and Indiana University for college. He chose Indiana for its strong music school and track program. He redshirted his freshman year so he could be a member of the IU marching band as a snare drummer. Music is a big part of Neville’s life as he has been playing since the fourth grade and is currently the music coordinator at the Taylor University chapel. When he returned to the track he would go on to become a seven-time all-American and four-time Big Ten champion. His 45.58 at the 2006 NCAA Indoor Championships is still the school indoor 400m record. He is #2 on the Indiana list for 400m outdoors (44.94) behind Sunder Nix (44.67). He was selected as the Athlete of the Big Ten Outdoor Championships (e.g. MVP of the meet) in 2004 and 2006 and was the Big Ten Track & Field Athlete of the Year in 2006.
Following the 2005-2006 school year he decided to forgo his final year of collegiate eligiblity and signed a professional contract with Nike. He moved to California to train with the renowed spint coach John Smith. While 2007 saw only modest results he had his eye set squarely on 2008 and the Beijing Olympics. He started the Oympic-year off winning the 400m at the 2008 USA Indoor Championships in Boston. At the Olympic Trials in Eugene he finished third, running a career best 44.61, to secure his spot on Team USA. In 400m final in Beijing, out of lane nine, he physically dove across the finish line to pass Bahamian Chris Brown in the final meters to secure the bronze medal by just .04 seconds. His third place finish completed a USA sweep as teammates LaShawn Merritt and Jeremy Wariner took the top two places. Neville teamed with Merrit, Wariner, and Angelo Taylor to win the gold medal in the 4x400m relay in an Olympic record time of 2:55.39. He ran his leg in 44.19.
In the years that followed injuries prevented him from competing at the same level as 2008 and in 2014 he officially retired. Neville is married to his wife, Arial, and the couple have a 2-year old daughter named Acaia.
So let’s get to know Mr. Neville beyond just the titles and accolades.
What are you doing these days in terms of your job?
I am currently the head men's and women's track and field coach at Taylor University. I am specifically over the sprints, hurdles and relays.
Macaroni and cheese
Israel Houghton and New Breed
Pirates of the Caribbean
Person who had the most influence on your athletic career?
If you could have lunch with a person you have never met, who would it be?
How about dinner?
What were your high school bests for each year:
Freshmen - did not compete
Sophomore -didn't compete
Junior - 10.89 (100m)
Senior - 10.5 (100m), 21.10 (200m), 46.98 (400m)
When did you first realize you might have some talent and a future in the sport?
My senior year in high school at regional champs
You attend Indiana University. What other schools did you visit?
Ball state, Miami of Ohio, and Indiana State
Best training partner?
Kelly Willie and Craig Everhart
What were your expectations/goals going into the ’08 Olympic Trials?
My goal was simply to make the Olympic team in the 400m
Tell us about the final 50m of the 400m at the 2008 Olympic Games?
I was starting to fade as all the energy was leaving. However I buckled down to give it everything I had. I was slipping to 4th place with about 15m left. I gave it one last push and as I got to the line I leaned as hard as I could. The lean turned into a dive and I snagged the 3rd place finish.
What are your top three memories from your competitive career?
1. The bronze medal in Beijing
2. Running 44.61 at Olympic trials
3. Breaking the Olympic record in the 4x4 in Beijing
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