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Robert Dennis Illustration OLYMPIAN SPOTLIGHT Robert Dennis 1996 Atlanta Olympics Words by Madeah Addy
May 14, 2022

It was 1996. Liberia was facing civil unrest. Sending athletes to the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia seemed out of reach. Yet five eager Liberians represented Liberia and raised the Lone Star banner at one of the most trying times in the nation’s history. Among those five is our May Olympian, Robert Dennis.

A dream fulfilled

Competing for Liberia was a goal Dennis sought to achieve. From watching the Olympics on TV as a child to being noted as one of the fastest high school sprinters on the East coast of the United States, Dennis made it a point to shine. Ultimately, he ran track in college.

“It was all important,” Dennis told Go Team Liberia. “To fulfill my dream at that point in my college career was very important to me, but also it was important to go there [to the Olympics] and try to do my best, to do our best, because the only images that were coming out of Liberia to the world was a lot of hardship.”

Dennis wasn’t sure how the team would be able to compete at the Olympics, while the country struggled through a civil war. But his goal to represent Liberia would come full circle at the opportune time.

After connecting with Liberia’s Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Liberia National Olympic Committee, the goal became a reality for the five member team. Dennis shared that the journey took a lot of prayer and hard work.

Representing Liberia

Dennis competed in the men’s 100 meter and the men’s 4×100 relay race as the anchor at the 1996 Games. A moment he says was more like an unforgettable feeling of high energy. During this time, he ran with Liberia’s first ever men’s 4×100 team.

As a member of the national team, he also competed in Athens, Greece at the 1997 World Championships. Dennis’s collegiate career was very impressive as he received consecutive conference titles during the 1997 and 1998 seasons at the Big East Conference and the Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America (IC4A) in both the men’s 100 and 200 meter races. 

According to World Athletics, Dennis represented Liberia up until 1999.

Life after track

The transition from athlete to the real world is one that Dennis and many others describe as difficult. However, Dennis managed that difficulty and continued to check off many goals which included law school.

Becoming an attorney was another lifelong dream he accomplished after law school. Although Dennis would enter the legal world, sports would not be far behind. Dennis fused his love of sports and the law into a career practicing sports law and entertainment law.

As a sports agent Dennis represented professional athletes in the National Football League,  Canadian Football League, Australian Football League, Major League Soccer, and women’s basketball.

“It can be a difficult transition,” Dennis said. “That high that you get during competition being an athlete, it’s not there anymore so you have to really figure out what it is you want for the next chapter.”

Dennis credits his successful transition into the real world to the skills he learned as an athlete. He challenges the many athletes he’s represented to take their competitive spirit and apply that same enthusiasm, drive and effort towards the next chapter. After all, that ideology worked for him.

Despite all that he has accomplished, Dennis’s interests lie beyond his own success. He has a wealth of knowledge that any athlete would benefit from and he’s open to sharing it. In fact, this is one of his objectives as an executive member of the Liberia Olympians Association—he is the current treasurer. 

Athletes have unique journeys and Dennis hopes that during his tenure as an LOA executive Liberian athletes will gain more support and a more even playing field. “Whether that be financially, intellectually, business connections, or whatever just to help them move forward in whatever endeavor they choose.”

Go Team Liberia is appreciative of the time spent learning more about Robert Dennis and looking forward to what is to come.

Listen and read Dennis’s Q&A below.

Robert Dennis Illustration

 

 

My name is Robert Dennis and I competed in the 1996 Atlanta Games.

 

Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born in Harbel, Margibi County, Liberia. But I grew up in the United States of America, in the State of Maryland.

What do you love about Liberia? 

The thing I love most about Liberia is the people. The way that no matter what situation they find themselves in they know how to make a joke out of it. They don’t take too many things to heart. I like that about Liberia and Liberians.

When did you start running and how did you end up on the Liberia Olympic Team?

I started running for Liberia in 1996. Before then, I was at school running for West Virginia University.

After achieving the Olympic qualifying standards, we [my family] reached out to the Ministry of Youth and Sports and through the Ministry I was connected with the Liberian National Olympic Committee and that is how I was appointed to the team.

What’s your favorite sports event and what do you miss most about being on the team?

My favorite sports event in terms of athletics is the 100, 200, and the relays of course. I miss the competition and the comradery from my fellow athletes.

What’s your favorite Olympic memory?

Walking into the ceremony with my teammates and walking behind the flag. The lights. Blinding lights. I would look at it as more of a feeling. The energy of the stadium was very high so that is something I will never forget.

What’s your #1 advice to an athlete who wants to become an Olympian?

I would take it in three parts. You have to have a plan. You have to work through your plan. Lastly, but most importantly you have to believe in yourself.

What’s an interesting fact about you that not many people know?

An interesting fact about me…I think I’m very interesting! I have a photographic memory. It’s weird but my last exam in law school was a Wills and Trust exam. I can probably write the whole exam out right now because it’s ingrained.

What do you miss the most about competing and what’s life like after sports?

I miss the exhilaration that you feel in training but mostly in competition. Just going head to head against someone else.

Readers can stay in touch with Dennis by following him on Instagram  at @6_degree2deep_. Supporters can also  keep up with him on the Liberia Olympians social media pages— @liberiaolympians.

The Olympian Spotlight Series is a monthly project that features the journeys and lives of Liberia’s Olympians. Not only does the project highlight their lives as athletes, it expresses their views as Liberians and showcases life after professional sports. Its goal is to honor these athletes and encourage readers who may want to support or become an Olympian themselves.

Read More

It was 1996. Liberia was facing civil unrest. Sending athletes to the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia seemed out of reach. Yet five eager Liberians represented Liberia and raised the Lone Star banner at one of the most trying times in the nation’s history. Among those five is our May Olympian, Robert Dennis.

A dream fulfilled

Competing for Liberia was a goal Dennis sought to achieve. From watching the Olympics on TV as a child to being noted as one of the fastest high school sprinters on the East coast of the United States, Dennis made it a point to shine. Ultimately, he ran track in college.

“It was all important,” Dennis told Go Team Liberia. “To fulfill my dream at that point in my college career was very important to me, but also it was important to go there [to the Olympics] and try to do my best, to do our best, because the only images that were coming out of Liberia to the world was a lot of hardship.”

Dennis wasn’t sure how the team would be able to compete at the Olympics, while the country struggled through a civil war. But his goal to represent Liberia would come full circle at the opportune time.

After connecting with Liberia’s Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Liberia National Olympic Committee, the goal became a reality for the five member team. Dennis shared that the journey took a lot of prayer and hard work.

Representing Liberia

Dennis competed in the men’s 100 meter and the men’s 4×100 relay race as the anchor at the 1996 Games. A moment he says was more like an unforgettable feeling of high energy. During this time, he ran with Liberia’s first ever men’s 4×100 team.

As a member of the national team, he also competed in Athens, Greece at the 1997 World Championships. Dennis’s collegiate career was very impressive as he received consecutive conference titles during the 1997 and 1998 seasons at the Big East Conference and the Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America (IC4A) in both the men’s 100 and 200 meter races. 

According to World Athletics, Dennis represented Liberia up until 1999.

Life after track

The transition from athlete to the real world is one that Dennis and many others describe as difficult. However, Dennis managed that difficulty and continued to check off many goals which included law school.

Becoming an attorney was another lifelong dream he accomplished after law school. Although Dennis would enter the legal world, sports would not be far behind. Dennis fused his love of sports and the law into a career practicing sports law and entertainment law.

As a sports agent Dennis represented professional athletes in the National Football League,  Canadian Football League, Australian Football League, Major League Soccer, and women’s basketball.

“It can be a difficult transition,” Dennis said. “That high that you get during competition being an athlete, it’s not there anymore so you have to really figure out what it is you want for the next chapter.”

Dennis credits his successful transition into the real world to the skills he learned as an athlete. He challenges the many athletes he’s represented to take their competitive spirit and apply that same enthusiasm, drive and effort towards the next chapter. After all, that ideology worked for him.

Despite all that he has accomplished, Dennis’s interests lie beyond his own success. He has a wealth of knowledge that any athlete would benefit from and he’s open to sharing it. In fact, this is one of his objectives as an executive member of the Liberia Olympians Association—he is the current treasurer. 

Athletes have unique journeys and Dennis hopes that during his tenure as an LOA executive Liberian athletes will gain more support and a more even playing field. “Whether that be financially, intellectually, business connections, or whatever just to help them move forward in whatever endeavor they choose.”

Go Team Liberia is appreciative of the time spent learning more about Robert Dennis and looking forward to what is to come.

Listen and read Dennis’s Q&A below.

Robert Dennis Illustration

 

My name is Robert Dennis and I competed in the 1996 Atlanta Games.

 

Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born in Harbel, Margibi County, Liberia. But I grew up in the United States of America, in the State of Maryland.

What do you love about Liberia? 

The thing I love most about Liberia is the people. The way that no matter what situation they find themselves in they know how to make a joke out of it. They don’t take too many things to heart. I like that about Liberia and Liberians.

When did you start running and how did you end up on the Liberia Olympic Team?

I started running for Liberia in 1996. Before then, I was at school running for West Virginia University.

After achieving the Olympic qualifying standards, we [my family] reached out to the Ministry of Youth and Sports and through the Ministry I was connected with the Liberian National Olympic Committee and that is how I was appointed to the team.

What’s your favorite sports event and what do you miss most about being on the team?

My favorite sports event in terms of athletics is the 100, 200, and the relays of course. I miss the competition and the comradery from my fellow athletes.

What’s your favorite Olympic memory?

Walking into the ceremony with my teammates and walking behind the flag. The lights. Blinding lights. I would look at it as more of a feeling. The energy of the stadium was very high so that is something I will never forget.

What’s your #1 advice to an athlete who wants to become an Olympian?

I would take it in three parts. You have to have a plan. You have to work through your plan. Lastly, but most importantly you have to believe in yourself.

What’s an interesting fact about you that not many people know?

An interesting fact about me…I think I’m very interesting! I have a photographic memory. It’s weird but my last exam in law school was a Wills and Trust exam. I can probably write the whole exam out right now because it’s ingrained.

What do you miss the most about competing and what’s life like after sports?

I miss the exhilaration that you feel in training but mostly in competition. Just going head to head against someone else.

Readers can stay in touch with Dennis by following him on Instagram  at @6_degree2deep_. Supporters can also  keep up with him on the Liberia Olympians social media pages— @liberiaolympians.

The Olympian Spotlight Series is a monthly project that features the journeys and lives of Liberia’s Olympians. Not only does the project highlight their lives as athletes, it expresses their views as Liberians and showcases life after professional sports. Its goal is to honor these athletes and encourage readers who may want to support or become an Olympian themselves.

Read More