The 44-year-old Jackson put on quite the show.
Jackson won gold medals in the 200 meter dash, the 400 meter dash and earned a silver medal in the shot-put.
But if things had gone the way Jackson planned, the results may have been very different.
“I told my wife that I only wanted to do one event, the 400, that’s all I wanted to run,” Tony said. “Wednesday night my daughter Victoria registered us. I woke up that morning and asked ‘Did you register me for the 400?’ They said, ‘yeah we got you registered.’”
However, the 400m was not all they registered him for.
“That was all my mom’s idea,” said Tony Jackson’s daughter, Katie Jackson, who also competed in the State Games. “She said that if she was going to pay $25, he was going to more than one event.”
Jackson had already arrived at the State Games before he realized he would be participating in two more events.
“We got up there and they said ‘you have to do this, this, and this’ and I asked ‘why?’” Tony said. “But it worked out pretty good.”
Three medals later, Tony’s wife’s decision paid off.
“I’m glad he still had it in him,” Katie said.
This was Jackson’s first track meet since high school, and he felt nervous throughout the meet.
“I was running and I was scared,” Tony said.
But motivation was easy to find for Jackson. Participants in the State games ranged in age from teenagers to adults in their sixties.
“There were some old guys out there and you see them going, and you think if they can do it, I can do it,” Tony said.
Jackson was also motivated by the teenagers he coaches from Auburn Parks and Rec. Though they were supportive of their coach’s efforts, they did not hesitate to criticize his running style.
“The kids got on to him,” said Tony’s wife Veronica Jackson, who also coaches for Auburn Parks and Rec. “He ran his 400 and they were telling him to correct his form and he didn’t do it. So when he started his 200 they told him ‘remember to pump your arms and keep your form’ and he ran the 200 much, much better, and the kids were real excited about that.”
The Alabama State Games began in 1982 as a way to teach people about Olympic sports. The first games were held in 1983 in Auburn and featured Bo Jackson in some of the track and field events.
More than 6,000 athletes participated in this year’s event, and the opening ceremonies were broadcast live across the state. Jackson plans on running additional events in the future. He wants to compete in the 1,500 next year and also wants to bring along some more parents to next year’s State Games.
“It’s contagious,” Tony said. “State Games are fun.”