The Following Story Appeared as a feature in the Homecoming Edition of "The Blueprint" - the official Gameday Program of Tennessee State Football on Oct. 14, 2017
Chandra Cheeseborough-Guice reached the top of the track and field world during her time as an athlete, winning two gold medals and one silver at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Cheeseborough-Guice, who now serves as the Tennessee State University Director of Track and Field, is hoping one of her former student-athletes, Amber Hughes, can be the next Tigerbelle to compete on the world’s biggest stage.
“I don’t have to be the last Tigerbelle that goes to the Olympics,” Cheeseborough-Guice said. “With Amber, I think she is someone who will make it.”
Hughes graduated from TSU in 2017 after a decorated career for the women’s track and field team. One of the top hurdlers and jumpers in the NCAA during her time in Nashville, Hughes is now back in her hometown of Atlanta, Ga. to continue her training. She has honed in on the triple jump and 100m hurdles with her focus on qualifying for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
“My dream is to be in the Olympics,” Hughes said. “It’s going to be me. It’s going to happen. I’m definitely continuing on my dream. I can definitely see it happen.”
Hughes is training under Dwight Phillips, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist in the long jump, whom she met through Cheeseborough-Guice. Her current training partner is Kristi Castlin, the 100m hurdles bronze medalist from the 2016 Olympics. Hughes will begin competing on the professional circuit in January.
Hughes exploded onto the scene for the Tigerbelles, winning Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Year for the indoor and outdoor seasons in 2014. She continued to improve on and off the track during her time at TSU, earning five All-America honors and four OVC Academic Honor Roll accolades.
“My coaches really took me under their wings and molded me to be the woman that I am,” Hughes said. “They made me disciplined, and they made me work hard for everything that I got. They made me hungry for everything.”
The Tigerbelles have a rich tradition of Olympians dating back to the 1940s and had well-documented success on the international level under the late great coach Ed Temple.
Hughes got a taste of the international stage at TSU, earning an invite to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials and the USA Track and Field Championships in 2017.
“It makes me feel proud to know that I had a student-athlete like her in my program who has gone onto the next level of competition,” Cheeseborough-Guice said. “For the program, it just put another feather in our cap. After Coach Temple had done such a fantastic job of sending ladies to the Olympics, and now to have someone to come out of my program like Amber, it gives me honor and pleasure just to say that I coached her.”
Hughes earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from TSU and said the connections she made with her teammates and coaches have lasted beyond her college years. The lessons that came with being a Tigerbelle will last a lifetime.
“To be a Tigerbelle means that you’re a go-getter,” said Hughes. “You are hard working in everything that you do. You don’t back down from competition. You remain a competitor at all times with good sportsmanship and a great attitude.”