Many Mississippi State University athletes have gone on to play at a professional level, but fewer have gone on to perform in the Olympic trials and in world championships.
Tiffany Flynn, an MSU alumna from Ellenwood, Georgia, has been competing in track and field throughout high school, college and her professional career.
Before even coming to MSU, the coaching staff at the university knew she was special, beginning with her competitive cheer background in high school.
Chris Woods, the head track and field coach at MSU, was the one who recruited Flynn to be a part of his team. He shared that they were from the same hometown and he had a connection with a high school coach of hers, leading him to know who she was and how capable she was.
"She really helped us further the development of our women's program here at Mississippi State," coach Woods said. "She's one of the best athletes that I've ever recruited."
While Woods was her recruiter, the coach Flynn worked with the most during her time repping the maroon and white was Steve Thomas.
"In our sport, you have to get strong and that's really where she made the improvements— in the weight room," coach Thomas said. "As she got stronger and stronger, she got faster and she was able to perform at a really high level."
Thomas shared that her determination in the weight room set her apart to break many freshman records, which is a great accomplishment as athletes only get one year to set those records and themselves apart.
Thomas was her head coach throughout her time at MSU and continues to follow her accomplishments as she furthers her athletic career.
Flynn is an athlete at her core, but she took what she loves and has shaped it into her career as well. She has a full time job working for the parks and recreation department of the city of Atlanta where she helps with city sports.
"I've had to sacrifice some things to get here," Flynn said about her training in addition to working full-time. "I feel like that is something that I have had to work through, because some athletes don't have to work to live and pay for training or treatments. That has been a part of the challenge for me over the past couple of years."
This multi-passionate athlete speaks highly of her alma mater and stays in touch with some of the girls who are younger than her who she was able to work alongside during her collegiate career.
Her adoration for the university that was one of the starting blocks for her athletic career has not gone unnoticed. Coach Woods loves how much Flynn attributes to her time at MSU.
"She really takes pride in being a Mississippi State alumnus," Woods said about Flynn. "She's always reaching out to me and congratulating the kids that we have right now about their success. She's a Bulldog at heart through and through."
Flynn currently holds the school's record for the women's triple-jump competition with a distance of 13.87m. The prior record, which she also previously held, was 13.63m.
Her coaches spoke highly of Flynn as a person, but also how her personality shines through in her athletic career, helping her to make great leaps and bounds over hurdles she has faced in competition.
"All these kids that we recruit, they certainly have the potential to go on to higher competition," Woods said. "It was about Tiffany's sophomore year that I said that if she gets really serious about this sport, she can take this to the next level."
In an interview with The Reflector, Flynn said she did not think there was anything a man could do that she cannot do.
"I feel like I'm just as good as a guy," Flynn said, chuckling. "As a woman we have many challenges that we have to push through, so I feel like I am just as tough and just as strong as any man. There may be some stronger than me but there are also some that I am definitely stronger than."
Flynn took her skills to the international arena at a world championship earlier this month in Serbia, where she competed in the long-jump competition. She placed fourth with a 6.78m mark in the World Athletics Indoor Championship.
Flynn also competed in the olympic trials in Oregon last summer, where she placed 4th in the long jump.
Flynn is proud of the work she has accomplished and puts time and effort in each day to better herself as she represents the U.S. in her competitions, but said the time that she spent competing in the Southeastern Conference prepared her for any competition she would face.
"I competed against the best of the best in college, and I'm competing against the best of the best right now," Flynn said. "That was a tough conference to come out of and it's still tough right now competing against international athletes. It's pretty much the same level of challenge."
Flynn said staying in her own zone with a focus on herself and her own training has helped her get to the level where she is currently.
After her recent return from the competition in Serbia, Flynn is getting back into her routine of work and training in addition to treatments. Her Bulldog coaching family is excited to see where she goes next.