Miller, a 2012 gold medalist, received Golden Hawk Award
Ramon Miller will never settle for a life of mediocrity.
One day, he wants people to know his name and associate him as one of the greatest runners of all time.
After numerous NAIA championships and two Olympic medals, including a gold during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London as the anchor leg of the 1,600-meter relay, he's on the right track.
The former Dickinson State track and field phenom was given the Golden Hawk award on Friday night, which is the highest achievement award the DSU Alumni & Foundation gives out annually.
"It hasn't hit me yet. I'm a calm guy I don't think things above its level, you know," Miller said before the ceremony. "But I heard it's a prestigious award and I'm grateful to have it."
The Bahamas native was a part of the DSU track team from 2006-09 and racked up a number of championships and records for the university. He still holds the NAIA national indoor championships record in the 400 meters at 46.96 seconds. He was also named the Most Valuable Performer of the meet, was the Outstanding Performer of the NAIA outdoor championships, as well as being an 11-time national champion.
The DSU track program has produced a numerous amount of successful runners, like sprinter Derrick Atkins and high jumper Trevor Berry. But Miller stood out for head coach Pete Stanton because of his outstanding work ethic on and off the track.
"Ramon's humble, very hard working -- one of the hardest workers that I had here," Stanton said. "He was a very focused person. He was one that wasn't going to be a rah-rah type of guy. He was very focused on what he was supposed to do. He was a very good teammate with everyone and he worked hard. ... The times he was here, he was one of the very, very best we ever had in any sport in our school."
Miller and his Bahamas teammates won a silver medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics -- he competed in the semifinals but was held out of the finals in favor of a more veteran runner -- but it wasn't until last year's London Olympics that he and his team made history.
The Bahamas pulled off one of the biggest shocks of the Olympics, ending the United States' 52-year reign in the 1,600 relay, as well as setting a national record at 2:56:72. Miller surpassed the Angelo Taylor of the U.S. down the final stretch to take home his country's fifth-ever Olympic medal.
"It really didn't hit me until we received the medal on the podium and our national anthem began to play," Miller reflected. "That's when I said 'This is real,' and the goosebumps started to show on me. I just felt proud, I did something for my country."
Miller didn't get involved with track until 2003 when he was in high school. Without the cockiness and arrogance from some of the athletes to give him that competitive edge, Miller may have never stepped onto a track and lived up to his full potential as an internationally accomplished runner.
"They were being all bossy and cocky walking around school and I told them I'll come on the track team and I'm sure that I can beat one of you, and it all started from there and from that day everything went in a total different direction that I never expected because track was the least from my mind," he said.
Moving from the sunny Bahamas to run college track in chilly North Dakota was also something far from his mind, but helped Miller become the runner he is today. Stanton originally had Miller running distance, but had to reconsider his decision because Miller couldn't train in the cold.
"(Stanton) tried other workouts where I can train inside but it wasn't enough," Miller said. "... It was a relief and I was glad too because I didn't have to train outside too."
At DSU, Stanton stresses to all of his athletes the importance of academics over track and earning their degree. No one understood or appreciated it more than Miller. When he wasn't running, he studied, earned his degree in exercise science and completed school with a 3.2 GPA. Miller is fully aware that his time as an athlete is short and education is the only thing keeping him from failing afterwards.
"Track is only a certain period of time in your life," he said. "You need something to fall back on and that's what I tell some of the kids back home in the Bahamas. I try to encourage them to get that degree first and then pursue track."
When his illustrious career eventually comes to an end, Miller wants to become a track coach and pass on the knowledge and mentoring that he received from his step-father, coach Stanton and many of the great DSU runners before him.
"Hopefully one day I'll be one of the best coaches in the world," Miller said. "I think I want to extend my talents to other people, extend my mind. It's all about creating the craft in track and field and it's how you create your craft to be better."
Stanton added: "I'm very proud of him and just proud of the person that he is, proud of the individual that he is and obviously he's gone on at the world level and performed very well. He's very, very focused and very, very driven, and that's what it takes. ... He's pushed himself and he's very motivated, and he's pushed himself to be the best he can be."