DaveA United States Sports Academy alumnus with 14 U.S. national championships in race walking has set a record as the first person to qualify for eight Olympic trials in USA Track & Field.

Dave McGovern, a race walker with an international reputation as an athlete and coach, in December qualified for the USA Track & Field Olympic trials to be held 21 February in Santee, Calif.  McGovern, 50, qualified for the 50K Olympic race walking event to earn his eighth trip to the trials.   He was previously tied with hammer thrower Ed Burke with seven appearances, according to USA Track & Field records.

McGovern, who earned a Master of Sports Science in sports coaching at the Academy in 2006, has been active in USA Track & Field and race walking for more than 35 years.

A 14-time U.S. national champion in his sport, McGovern has not made the U.S. Olympic team in the highly competitive race walking category, but has been a perennial competitor and has helped launch the careers of numerous athletes.  He is the fastest American race walker ever to not make an Olympic team with a performance in the 20 kilometers (12.4 miles — one of the two Olympic distances for men) of 1:24:29 — a 6:48 per-mile pace. McGovern has been a member of 20 international teams, including seven World Cup and six Pan Am Cup teams.

McGovern is the most experienced and productive race walking coach and clinician in the United States. A 30-year veteran and current member of the U.S. National Race Walk Team, McGovern has annually conducted some 20 clinics and camps in the U.S. and around the world since 1991 through his company, World Class Race Walking.  He served as head coach for Team USA at the 2012 World Cup in Saransk, Russia.

As a private coach, McGovern has guided more than a dozen athletes to the U.S. Olympic Track & Field trials.  Many of his clinic alumni have lost weight, bounced back from heart disease and diabetes, completed marathons, won masters race walking championships and set age-group world records.

McGovern has earned a spot at the trials every year since 1988 and says he enjoys the challenge.

“As far as making the Olympic team, that would be difficult since I am a full-time father and coach,” he said. “I am just doing this for kicks and I enjoy going out there and competing.”

McGovern started out as a residential student at the Academy and then completed his degree online upon moving from Mobile, Ala., to Locust Valley on Long Island, N.Y., where he lives with his wife, Loretta, and three young sons.

“The United States Sports Academy was very good in teaching me how to deal with finances, insurance and sports coaching issues — all of things you need when you are a private coach,” he said. “The Academy was very helpful with what was needed to run a business.

“The classes were great. I learned a lot and it was a help.  It’s a top college for sports.

“The online classes allowed me to move to New York with my family and still complete my degree,” he added.

McGovern has been a writer for Walking Magazine and Walk! Magazine, and is the author of three books: “The Complete Guide to Marathon Walking,” “The Complete Guide to Race Walking Technique” and  “Training and Precision Walking.”

McGovern is currently serving as the national endurance head coach for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America’s Team Challenge Half-Marathon Team, inspired by his wife’s diagnosis with colitis.  The foundation raises awareness and research funding to fight the diseases.

In addition to his Academy degree, McGovern holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Rochester and a master’s degree in environmental planning from the University of Virginia.

The United States Sports Academy, known around the world as America’s Sports University, is an independent, non-profit, regionally accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and the world with programs in instruction, research and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports.