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Conley, Michael Alexlocked

(5 Oct. 1962– ), track and field athlete, Olympic and World champion in the triple jump, coach, deputy sheriff, and businessman,

Conley, Michael Alexlocked

(5 Oct. 1962– ), track and field athlete, Olympic and World champion in the triple jump, coach, deputy sheriff, and businessman,
  • Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born in Chicago, Illinois, the second of three children of Alex and Ora Conley. He played basketball and competed in track and field at Luther High School South, a private Lutheran high school in the Ashburn neighborhood of Chicago. Conley led his basketball team to the Illinois Class A State Championship in 1980 and to runner-up in 1981. He dominated track and field, winning state titles in the triple jump from 1979 to 1981, the long jump in 1980 and 1981, and the 100 and 200 meters in 1981. Also in 1981, Conley won the triple jump and placed second in the long jump at The Athletics Congress (TAC) Junior National Track and Field Championships. Upon graduating high school in 1981 he earned an athletic scholarship to play basketball and compete in track and field at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Eddie Sutton, then the Razorback’s basketball coach, recognized that Conley’s athletic potential was in the long and triple jumps and encouraged him to concentrate on track and field after his freshman year.

As a college athlete Conley ranked highly among the world’s best long and triple jumpers. At the 1982 TAC National Championships, the freshman Razorback finished fifth in the triple jump and sixth in the long jump. The next year Conley won the first of three consecutive National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Indoor Championships in the triple jump, finished second in the long jump, and third in the triple jump at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, and claimed second in the triple jump and third in the long jump at the TAC Championships. At the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki, Finland Conley finished third in the long jump and fourth in the triple jump. That year Track & Field News (T&FN) ranked him fourth in the world in both horizontal jumps. In 1984 Conley won the first of two consecutive NCAA Indoor Championships in the long jump and the first two consecutive NCAA Outdoor Championships in the triple jump. After winning the triple jump at the United States Olympic Trials, he finished second to teammate Al Joyner in the event at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California, but nevertheless earned his first number one world ranking from T&FN. In 1985 Conley won the first of five TAC Indoor Championships in the triple jump and two in the long jump. That year he claimed both jumps and finished second in the 200 meters at the Southwest Conference (SWC) Championships and the NCAA Outdoor Championships. He won the SWC long jump title with a career best non-wind-aided performance of 27 feet 4 inches (8.33 meters). After winning the long jump and finishing second in the triple jump at the TAC Championships in 1985, Conley concluded the season by winning the long jump at the World Cup in Canberra, Australia. That year T&FN ranked him second in the world in both the long and triple jumps.

After completing college eligibility in 1985, Conley became an assistant coach at the University of Arkansas and continued to compete in the long and triple jumps. After finishing second in both horizontal jumps outdoors at TAC Championships in 1986, he won five of six triple jump meetings, including the Goodwill Games in Moscow, and garnered T&FN’s number one ranking in the world. On 27 February 1987 Conley won the TAC Indoor Championship in a world record of 58 feet 3¼ inches (17.76 meters). In 1987 he won the first of six TAC/USA Track & Field (USATF) championships in the triple jump; his winning jump measured 58 feet 7½ inches (17.87 meters), his best non-wind-aided performance and history’s third best at that time. Later that year Conley won the triple jump at the Pan American Games in Indianapolis, finished second in the triple jump at the World Championships in Rome, and ranked second in the world according to T&FN. Although he failed to qualify for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, he won several major European triple jump competitions to earn fifth place in T&FN’s world rankings. With basketball still in his blood, Conley won the first of three Foot Locker Celebrity Slam Dunk Contests in 1988. Next year he won the triple jump and placed third in the long jump at the World Indoor Championships in Budapest. Undefeated in twelve triple jump meetings outdoors, including a victory in the World Cup in Barcelona, Conley earned T&FN’s number one global ranking for a second time in 1989. After finishing second to Kenny Harrison in the triple jump at the TAC Championships in 1990 and 1991, he won the national title in 1992, along with the Olympic gold medal in Barcelona; his winning performance of 59 feet 7½ inches (18.17 meters) would have been a world record had it not been wind-aided. Ranked number one in the world by T&FN from 1992 through 1994, Conley won the triple jump at the World Championships in Stuttgart in 1993 and the Grand Prix Final in Paris in 1994. After a placing fourth in the triple jump at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, he retired from the horizontal jumps and dabbled in the 400 meters through the end of the decade.

Conley, who retired from coaching and competition in 1999, served as a deputy sheriff in Washington County, Arkansas, and trained police and attack dogs, before joining the USATF as executive director of the Elite Athletes Division and established the Professional Athletics Association. Inducted into the Arkansas Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1998 and USATF Hall of Fame in 2004, Conley graduated Indiana Wesleyan University with a BS in Business Administration that same year. Married to Renee since the mid-1980s, he is the father of four children. As the president/CEO of MMG Sports Management of Indianapolis, he represented his son, Mike Jr., and other Ohio State University basketball players in contract negotiations with the National Basketball Association in 2006. As the executive director of World Sports Chicago, he worked on an unsuccessful effort bring the 2016 Olympic Games to Chicago.

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