High school sprinter Matthew Boling has become somewhat of a household name in recent weeks after a series of viral race videos, but there's a certain part of the newfound fame that irks him.
Many of the headlines and comments that accompanied his viral clips included the nickname "White Lightning" since he is Caucasian. When asked what he'd like his nickname to be in a radio interview, Boling responded "Matt."
“I cringed when that White Lightning thing started,” Bolings father, Mark, told the Washington Post. “We’re very hopeful that will die an early death.”
“I don’t care or notice, but people bring it up a bunch, like on Instagram,” Matt Boling told the Post about how his skin color affects how people view him. “But I don’t really care.”
Boling recently made headlines when he ran a wind-aided 100-meter dash in 9.98 seconds. He followed that up by setting an all-conditions national high school record by with a wind-legal 10.13 in the 100 at the Texas Class 6A state championship. He also ran a 44.74 in the 4x400-meter relay to help his team erase a deficit and win. Boling also competed in the long jump and won with a leap of 25 feet, 2 inches.
NBC Sports' Ato Boldon acknowledged that Boling's skin color is going to result in more notice from a mass audience.
“Of course it’s going to get him extra attention, for the same reason Tiger Woods, when he showed up, got a lot of extra attention,” Boldon said. “I get it. Anybody who ignores that is being disingenuous. For me, your skin color might get you attention. That gets you to the party. The question is, can you dance? And this kid can dance. … Once you see him, the color of his skin is immediately going to be the last thing you think about.”
Next fall, Boling will run at the University of Georgia. He also intends to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo but will need to finish in the top three at the U.S. Olympic Trials next Summer for a spot on the national team. Petros Kyprianou, the head track & field coach at Georgia, told the Post he believes Boling's best event and strongest chance to qualify for Tokyo is the long jump.
Boling competing in the men's 100 meters in Japan would be a longshot. This year, Noah Lyles won the Shanghai Diamond League meet in a personal best of 9.86 to edge out world championship silver medalist Christian Coleman by .006 seconds. Last year, Coleman ran 9.79 for the fastest time of 2018.