Former Woodrow track star hopes to shine at Deaflympics in Taiwan
Saturday, September 5, 2009
By ROY APPLETON / The Dallas Morning News
Delvin Furlough struggles to hear and speak. With ease, he lets his feet do some swift talking.
And half a world away from Oak Cliff, and the streets he ran as a kid, the 20-year-old racer will soon communicate for his country – at the international Deaflympics.
Delvin is in Taipei, Taiwan, one of 21 members of the U.S. track team, one of 142 Americans competing at the 21st summer games for deaf athletes.
“Because I’m fast,” he said of his selection to the team.
His times in races past qualified him for the U.S. squad. And after months of intense training, Delvin will line up for the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter dashes, plus two relays.
With more than 4,200 athletes from 85 countries, the games began Friday and continue through Sept. 15. Track and field events get under way Monday.
“I want to win five medals,” Delvin said recently, after an auditory assist from his father, Kevin, and twin brother, Kelvin.
His father remembers how some people thought Delvin was mentally slow early on – until his aunt determined he was deaf.
After attending R.L. Thornton Elementary and J.L. Long Middle School, he enrolled at Woodrow Wilson High School, where the Furlough twins starred in track.
Kelvin won the state Class 4A 400-meter dash finals in 2008, a year after his brother finished fourth in the same event.
Delvin transferred to the Texas School for the Deaf in Austin after his sophomore year. There he excelled in football and track, winning the state 400-meter finals last year in private school competition. Kelvin is a scholarship sprinter at Southwestern Christian College in Terrell.
The brothers have yet to settle who is fleetest in the family. They just smiled when asked for an answer recently near the track at South Oak Cliff High School.
“They’re still fussing about it,” said their father, who remembers trying to chase them down when the three lived on East Ledbetter Drive.
He and other family and friends will be checking Web sites and awaiting results from Taipei. Their hopes for success are sound, said Jesse Bailey, Delvin’s coach in Austin.
“I’m confident he will win a medal,” said Bailey, an assistant on the Deaflympics team and gold medalist at the 1993 games. “He has really blossomed. His work ethic is phenomenal.
“He is one of the best athletes I’ve ever coached.”
Thomas Withrow, head coach of the track and field team, said he’s impressed with Delvin’s commitment, conditioning and laid-back attitude.
“He does not take anything for granted. He’s striving for his goals and he will get them,” Withrow said recently.
And bottom line: “He can run. … He is one of the elites for the Deaf Olympics and the team.”
Where Delvin goes from Taipei is unsettled. He graduated from the Texas School for the Deaf last spring and wants to continue his education and running – to see where his legs can take him.
Bailey hopes he can enroll this fall at Austin Community College. If not, he will return to the deaf school for further schooling.
Delvin has talked about attending Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., where Withrow and Bailey graduated and where Withrow directs the track program. And joining brother Kelvin at school in Terrell could be an option.
“As long as he gets an education, I’ll be proud,” said his father, who remains out of work, recovering from a gunshot wound to his leg. He was injured trying to intervene in a dispute involving another of his sons at a South Oak Cliff apartment.
But he’s hopeful, if not confident, that his son’s time and times in Taipei will keep him on track athletically – at least for a while.
“This is just a start. I’m telling you,” he said.