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Haggai Erlich

Ethiopian athlete, was born on 7 August 1932 in Jato, a village located some eighty miles from Addis Ababa, outside the town of Mendida in Shewa Province. His father died before he was born, and young Abebe was adopted by Bikila Demisse, a shepherd. Having completed his studies at age twelve at the local traditional school, he followed in his adopted father’s footsteps. At the age of twenty, he decided to venture out of peasantry and made his way on foot to the capital, to join the Imperial Bodyguard. In 1954 he married Yewibdar Welde-Giyorgis, with whom he fathered four children. He distinguished himself as a talented player of gena, a traditional Ethiopian hockey game, but remained an anonymous soldier until the age of twenty-four. At that time, while guarding the departure of the Ethiopian delegation to the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne he decided to begin competing ...

Article

Jesús Cosamalón

was born in the province of Chincha, Peru, on 26 June 1946. Even as an adolescent, he stood out in the sprint competitions held by his high school in his home province, La Gran Unidad Escolar “José Pardo,” especially in the 100- and 200-meter dashes. When he was 17 years old he began to train with Luis Derteano and excelled in regional track events. In 1969, in the city of Quito, Ecuador, he set the Peruvian national record for the 100-meter dash at 10.2 seconds, and he achieved the same time at the Bolivarian Games of 1970 in Maracaibo, Venezuela. However, both results were measured manually, and were thus not official. Acevedo’s official 100-meter record is 10.43 seconds, which was recorded electronically in La Paz, Bolivia, in 1977. During the Sixth Pan American Games, held in Cali, Colombia, in 1971 Acevedo won the bronze medal in ...

Article

Steven B. Jacobson and William A. Jacobson

sprinter, was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, the eldest of five children of Samuel Ashford, a non-commissioned U.S. Air Force officer, and Vietta Ashford, a homemaker. Because of her father's service assignments, the family lived a nomadic lifestyle before settling in Roseville, California, where Ashford was the only girl on Roseville High's boys track team. She earned her spot by beating the school's fastest boys. Ashford's precocious world-class speed was obvious by her senior year, when she recorded times of 11.5 and 24.2 seconds, respectively, in the 100 and 200 meter dashes.

Ashford entered UCLA in September 1975 with an athletic scholarship. She soon qualified for the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada, and there, at nineteen, she qualified for the finals and was the top U.S. finisher in the 100 meters, finishing fifth in 11.24 seconds. Ashford was a collegiate all-American in 1977 and 1978 She ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

Honored in 1979 and 1981 as Woman Athlete of the Year, Evelyn Ashford was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. She grew up in Roseville, California, where her high school invited her to join its all-male track-and-field team after she outran some of the male athletes. Ashford then attended the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) on an athletic scholarship. During her college years, from 1975 through 1978, she trained as a sprinter, a fast runner over short distances. She won four national collegiate running championships and also competed in her first Olymic Games, held in Montreal, Canada, in 1976.

In 1978 Ashford became a fulltime athlete, winning World Cup titles in the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints the following year. She could not compete in the 1980 Olympics which were held in Russia then the Soviet Union because the United States decided to boycott the games that ...

Article

Gerard Sloan

track-and-field athlete, was born William Augustus Banks III at Travis Air Force Base in northern California, the son of Georgia Corinthian, who worked in various factories and the school cafeteria, and William Augustus Banks II, a U.S. Marine. He attended Jefferson Junior High School (now Jefferson Middle School) and Oceanside High School, both in Oceanside, California. While at the latter institution, he was first recognized for his talent in both the high jump and the long jump events. However, it was not until his junior year—when the state decided to add the triple jump (sometimes referred to as the hop, step, and jump) to its competitions—that he found the area in which he most excelled. It turned out that his history teacher, Bill Christopher, was a former U.S. champion in the event himself. With his assistance, Banks quickly became a dominant triple jumper.

After graduating from high ...

Article

Dolph Grundman

basketball player and track athlete, was born Donald Angelo Barksdale in Oakland, California, the son of Agee Barksdale, a Pullman porter, and Desiree Barksdale, a homemaker. Barksdale grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood and played sports as a youngster at San Pablo Park, just four blocks from his home. Dutch Redquist, the director of the playground, helped him develop his skills. Jackie Robinson, the great UCLA athlete who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, visited the park and became another of Barksdale's mentors. Barksdale also accompanied his father to meetings of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters where he listened to black activists such as A. Philip Randolph.

While Barksdale was a gifted athlete he never played high school basketball The Berkeley High School basketball coach refused to have more than one black player on the team so Barksdale who entered high school in ...

Article

Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born Jane Kimberly Batten, in McRae, Georgia, the daughter of Ella Jean Batten. In 1976 her family moved to Rochester, New York, where she participated in basketball, track and field, and volleyball at the city’s East High School. Principally a long and triple jumper on the track and field team, Batten also competed in the 400-meter hurdles, posting times of 61.1 seconds in 1986 and 60.94 seconds in 1987. She graduated East High in 1987, ranked third in the nation in the triple jump.

Recruited by several colleges to compete in the triple jump, Batten selected Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee. For the Seminoles, she competed in the 100, 200, and 400 meters; 100- and 400-meter hurdles; long jump and triple jump; and the 4 × 100- and 4 × 400-meter relays. Indoors in 1988 Batten finished thirteenth in the triple jump at the National ...

Article

Richard Sobel

track-and-field athlete, motivational speaker, and activist for youth, was born Robert Alfred Beamon in Jamaica, New York, to Naomi Brown Beamon and a father he never met. After his mother died from tuberculosis before Beamon's first birthday, his stepfather, James, assumed parental responsibility for Robert and his older, disabled brother Andrew. Robert's grandmother, Bessie Beamon, ultimately took over their care as a result of James's inadequate parenting skills. Rarely supervised, Beamon ran away from home when he was fourteen and joined a gang. When he struck a teacher who had attempted to break up one of Beamon's fights, he was expelled and charged with assault and battery.

Beamon's life might have become a tragedy if it weren't for a judge who was “thoughtful, compassionate, and obviously interested in helping kids” (Second Chances 3 The judge took a chance and allowed Beamon to attend an alternative school in ...

Article

Robert Fay

Abebe Bikila was born in Mout, Ethiopia. Before competing as a runner he was a member of the imperial bodyguard of Haile Selassie I, the Ethiopian emperor. The marathon at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Italy was only Bikila’s third race at this distance, but he set a new world best time of 2 hours 15 minutes 16.2 seconds. The designation world best is used instead of record because marathon courses differ greatly and comparison of finish times is difficult. Bikila also attracted attention by running barefoot.

At the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, Bikila, no longer competing barefoot, became the first runner to win the Olympic marathon twice. He finished with a new world best time of 2 hours 12 minutes 11.2 seconds. His previous mark had been broken several times between the Olympic games. Bikila competed in the marathon at the 1968 Olympic Games in ...

Article

Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born Ato Jabari Boldon on 30 December 1973 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. He is one of two sons of Guy and Hope Boldon. His father is Trinidadian and his mother is Jamaican. Bolden attended Fatima College, a Catholic boy’s secondary school in Port of Spain, until the family immigrated to Queens, New York, in 1988. He played soccer at Jamaica High School in Queens. His coach, Joe Trupiano, recognized Boldon’s running ability and encouraged him to try out for the track team. In 1990 he clocked 10.8 seconds for 100 meters, 21.4 seconds for 200 meters, and 48.5 seconds for 400 meters. He won the 200 and 400 at the Queens County Championships, and finished third in the 200 at the New York State Championships. Later that year, he moved with his mother to San Jose, California. In 1991 the Piedmont Hills High School ...

Article

Brian L. Moore

was born on 21 August 1986 in Coxeath near Sherwood Content, Trelawny, Jamaica, to Wellesley and Jennifer Bolt, grocers. His family of five, which includes his two siblings, a brother Sadiki and a sister Sherine, faced difficult circumstances at a time when Jamaica’s economy was very depressed, made worse by a powerful hurricane (Gilbert) that destroyed considerable property and infrastructure all over the island when Bolt was 2 years old. But growing up in a remote rural village, Usain was spared the violence that afflicts many inner-city Jamaican communities; though poor, he spent a happy childhood surrounded by his family and friends in a secure environment where he could run around and play freely. This untroubled childhood played a major role in the formation of his fun-loving personality, which wins him many fans and admirers.

From a very young age Bolt showed a very keen interest in sports especially cricket ...

Article

Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born in Laurel, Mississippi, the youngest of ten children born to Peter and Eulalia Boston. His father, who worked as a fireman for the Gulf, Mobile, and Ohio Railroad before losing sight in his right eye, provided for the family by farming, hauling junk, and doing other odd jobs. His mother was a homemaker. As a student at Oak Park High School in Laurel, Boston developed both academic and athletic skills. As quarterback on the football team, he led Oak Park to the African American state high school football championship in 1956. In track and field, Boston excelled in the hurdling, sprinting, and jumping events. As a junior in 1956 he established a national high school record in the 180-yard low hurdles and led Oak Park to the first of two consecutive African American state high school track championships.

After graduating high school in 1957 Boston earned ...

Article

Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. Valerie Ann Brisco is the sixth of ten children of Arguster and Guitherea Brisco. In 1965 the Brisco family moved from rural Mississippi to Los Angeles. Brisco’s older brothers, Robert and Melvin Brisco, ran track at Alain Leroy Locke Senior High School in South Los Angeles. Late one afternoon in 1974, after completing their workout on the Locke track, stray gunfire from rival gangs struck and killed Robert. His death at Locke was ironic since the high school had been established in 1967, after the Watts riots of 1965, to provide South Los Angeles families a safe and secure place for their children to learn. Robert’s death motivated Brisco to run track at Locke, especially after she outran the fastest girl on the track team in physical education class. In 1977 she recorded times of 11 00 seconds for 100 yards ...

Article

Born in Bloemfontein, South Africa, Zola Budd was seventeen years of age in 1984 when she set an unofficial world record for the 5000-meter race with a time of 15 minutes, 1.83 seconds. At that time South Africa was barred from international sport because of its policy of Apartheid, so Budd adopted British citizenship in order to qualify for the 1984 Olympic Games. This move caused a good deal of controversy because it allowed a white South African athlete to defy the ban and appear in international competitions. At the 1984 Games Budd gained international attention when in the last lap of the 3000 meter race American runner Mary Decker Slaney the world record holder in the 3000 meter and the favorite to win tripped on Budd s foot and fell Both Budd and Decker Slaney finished out of the medals Budd initially received much of the ...

Article

Adam R. Hornbuckle

track and field athlete and professional football and baseball player was born Edward Solomon Butler on 3 March 1895, in Kingfisher, Oklahoma. Sol Butler was the youngest of three known children of Ben and Mary Butler. His father, born a slave in Georgia in 1842, took the last name of Butler after a Union officer with whom he served in the Civil War. His mother, originally from Georgia, was born a freewoman in 1867. The Butlers, as did many African Americans in the late nineteenth century, moved to the nation's Midwest to escape the rise of racial discrimination and violence in the South following the end of Reconstruction in 1877. After a brief period in the Oklahoma territory, the Butlers moved to Wichita, Kansas in 1904, before finally settling in Hutchinson, Kansas in 1909.

In Hutchinson Butler began to participate in football and track ...

Article

Gregory Travis Bond

athlete, dentist, and politician, was born in Topeka, Kansas, to Gary W. Cable, a teacher and postal worker, and Mary Ellen Montgomery Cable, a public school administrator and civil rights activist. In 1894 the family moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, where Cable attended public school and graduated from integrated Shortridge High School in 1908. He moved on to the exclusive Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire for the next school year and enrolled at Harvard University in 1909.

Cable had not participated in organized athletics in high school, but he tried out for the freshman track team at Harvard and caught the eye of Coach Pat Quinn. With Quinn's guidance, Cable developed rapidly. In the annual Harvard-Yale freshman meet, he won the hammer throw and he also performed well in the 220-yard hurdles and the broad jump (now the long jump) in intramural competitions.

He easily made ...

Article

Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born Lee Quincy Calhoun in Laurel, Mississippi, the son of Carey Calhoun and Erma McMillan. He grew up in Gary, Indiana, where his father was a Baptist minister. He competed in the high jump at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Gary, from which he graduated in 1951. Calhoun then enrolled at North Carolina College in Durham, now known as North Carolina Central University. Coached by LeRoy T. Walker, he began to concentrate on the 120-yard/110-meter high hurdles. Drafted into the United States Army after entering North Carolina College, Calhoun represented the service branch in athletic competition. At the All-Army Track and Field Championships in 1955, he won the 220-yard low hurdles in an inter-service record of 23.2 seconds. Later that year Calhoun finished fourth in the 120-yard high hurdles at the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Championships.

Honorably discharged in 1955 Calhoun resumed study and athletic ...

Article

Adam R. Hornbuckle

track and field athlete, Olympic decathlon champion, professional football player, community organizer, and motivational speaker, was born on 9 December 1933, in Plainfield, New Jersey. Milton Gray Campbell was the second of three children of Thomas and Edith Campbell. His father worked as a taxi cab driver and his mother as a domestic. At Plainfield High School Campbell excelled in football, track and field, and swimming. In his junior year he competed in the 100 meters and the 110-meter high hurdles at the 1952 United States Olympic Trials finishing sixth in the second semifinal heat of the 100 meters and fifth in the finals of the 110 meter high hurdles Later that summer Campbell competed in the Amateur Athletic Union AAU Decathlon National Championships which also served as the Olympic Trials for the two day ten event contest In his first attempt at ...

Article

Julián Lázaro

was born on 24 January 1964 in the city of Santander de Quilichao, in the department of Cauca, about 28 miles (45 kilometers) from Cali, Colombia. Norfalia soon distinguished herself through her athletic abilities, which became very evident during her time in high school. It was there that she discovered her talent and her vocation. As she herself would say many years later, “I became interested in athletics when I was 15 years old because of a simple physical education class” (Revista Semana, 2012).

Her talent soon transcended the curriculum of her physical education classes, and she quickly advanced to representing her school at track events within the department and later on a national level, thereby establishing herself as a promising young athlete. At age 16, she began to break records in the 100 and 400 meters, in the youth categories of national track competitions. In 1981 ...

Article

Kimberly Cheek

track-and-field athlete, was born John Wesley Carlos in Harlem, New York, the youngest of five children of Earl Vanderbilt Carlos, a cobbler, and Vioris Carlos, a nurse's aide. Initially Carlos desired to become an Olympic swimmer, but few African Americans had access to suitable training facilities for those events. He was encouraged by local police officers to become involved in track and field and trained at the New York Pioneer Club. He competed for the first time when he represented the Machine Trade and Metal High School at the Penn Relays. During his senior year Carlos married Karen Benjamin Groce on 29 February 1965 and with her had two children. Following high school he was awarded a full track-and-field scholarship to East Texas State University at Commerce.

In 1967 during his first year at East Texas State Carlos won the university s first Lone Star Conference title and ...