Nov. 8, 2004
INDIANAPOLIS (From USA T & F) - USA Track & Field on Monday announced the inductees for the "Class of 2004" for the National Track & Field Hall of Fame. The inductees are modern athletes - UCLA great Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Michael Johnson, Joan Benoit Samuelson and Michael Conley; veteran athletes Jack Davis, Otis Davis, Gerry Lindgren and John Pennel; contributor Dr. Evie Dennis and coach Stan Huntsman.
The Class of 2004 will be inducted Friday, December 3, at the Jesse Owens Awards and Xerox Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Held in conjunction with USATF's 2004 Annual Meeting in Portland, Ore., the inductions will be held at the Tiger Woods Center on the Nike World Campus in Beaverton, Ore.
Possibly the greatest combination long and triple jumper of all time, Michael Conley was ranked top ten in the world an amazing ten times in the long jump and 14 times in the triple jump. A two-time Olympic triple jump medalist (silver in 1984, gold in 1992), Conley was the world outdoor triple jump champion in 1993.
The current world and American record holder in the 200 and 400 meters, Michael Johnson became the first man in history to win both those events at the same Olympics in 1996 at Atlanta. He became the only man to repeat as Olympic 400m champion when he won the gold in 2000. Johnson owns more world outdoor championships than anyone in history (9) and ran the anchor leg on the U.S. squad that set the existing 4x400m relay world record in 1998.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee is considered by many to be the greatest female all-around athlete in history. Her achievements include three Olympic gold medals, four world outdoor championships gold medals, and the still-standing world record of 7,291 points in the women's heptathlon.
The winner of the first Olympic women's marathon at the1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, the name Joan Samuelson is synonymous with the increased popularity of long distance running in the United States. Samuelson, who was ranked #1 in the world in the marathon on two occasions, is a former world and U.S. record holder in that event.
One of a long line of magnificent U.S. men's high hurdlers, Jack Davis was the silver medalist in the 110m hurdles at the1952 and 1956 Olympic Games. Also known for his versatility, Davis was a three-time U.S. Outdoor 220y hurdles champion, and the 1953 NCAA 220y hurdle champion. A former world and American record holder, Davis was ranked #1 in the world on three occasions.
The U.S. has dominated the men's 400 meters through the years and Otis Davis is one of the nation's all-time greats in that event. The Olympic 400m gold medalist in 1960, Davis also captured gold that year as a member of the U.S. 4x400m relay team. Davis is a former world and U.S. record holder in the 400 meters.
The first American ever to win a distance event at a U.S.-Soviet Union dual meet, Gerry Lindgren was the U.S. national champion at 3,000 meters in 1967 and the 1964 national 10,000m champion. One of the most dominant collegiate athletes in history, Lindgren won 11 of the 12 NCAA events he contested while a student at Washington State University.
The first man ever to clear 17 feet in the pole vault, John Pennel is recognized as one of the greatest pole vaulters of all time. Pennel set the world outdoor pole vault six times and set the world indoor record on two occasions.
One of the nation's leading track coaches for more than 40 years, Stan Huntsman will be inducted into the Hall of Fame after mentoring 41 NCAA champions, four national champion relay squads and being named NCAA National Coach of the Year six times. The head men's coach for Team USA at the 1988 Olympic Games, Huntsman also served in that capacity at the 1983 World Outdoor Championships, the 1977 World Cup and the 2003 World Indoor Championships.
Dr. Evie Dennis will be inducted in the Contributor category for her many decades of service to the sport as an administrator. A former vice-president with the Amateur Athletic Union and interim president of The Athletics Congress (now USA Track & Field), she also served as that organization's acting chair of track and field and currently chairs USATF's Diversity Task Force. The chef de mission for the U.S. delegation at the 1988 Olympic Games, Dennis remains active in USATF and serves the organization as a delegate to the IAAF.
"I congratulate our magnificent Class of 2004 on their induction to the National Track & Field Hall of Fame," said USATF President Bill Roe. "I would also like to recognize the contributions of USATF's Hall of Fame Committee for their hard work in amending our election procedures to make them better than ever."
"On behalf of all of us at USA Track & Field, I thank our partners at Xerox for joining with us to honor these wonderful contributors to our sport," said USATF CEO Craig Masback. "We all look forward to the induction ceremony next month in Portland where these ten magnificent individuals will be welcomed in to the Hall of Fame."
"No sport has a more impressive history than track and field, and all of us at Xerox are thrilled to recognize these great athletes for their tremendous accomplishments," said Terry W. Dillman, Xerox Manager of Olympic Marketing. "Xerox is proud to once again partner with USA Track & Field in honoring these heroes at what will be the most memorable induction ceremony in the event's long and glorious history."
To coincide with the opening of the new National Track & Field Hall of Fame at the Armory Track & Field Center in New York City earlier this year, the Hall of Fame Steering Committee and Board of Directors this year modernized the screening, nomination and voting processes.
Four screening committees examined nominations and evaluated their merit based on objective criteria. Voting for each category was done by separate ballot for each of the four categories seen below.
Modern athletes, retired less than 25 years Veteran athletes, retired more than 25 years or more Coaches Contributors
JACKIE JOYNER-KERSEE: Current world and American record holder in the women's heptathlon...four-time Olympian, long jump gold medal in 1988, bronze in 1992, 1996, heptathlon silver medal in 1984, gold in 1988, 1992...four-time World Outdoor Championships team member, LJ gold in 1987, 1991; heptathlon gold in 1987, 1993...USA 100m hurdles champion in 1994, LJ champion nine times, heptathlon champion eight times...USA Indoor 60m hurdles champion in 1992, LJ champion in 1992, '94, '95...NCAA heptathlon champion in 1982, 1983...former LJ world record holder, set heptathlon world record three times...two-time 100mH U.S. record holder...four-time and current U.S. LJ record holder...two-time U.S. 60mH record holder...six-time and current U.S. indoor LJ record holder...current U.S. indoor 50mH, 55mH record holder...world ranked three times at 100m hurdles, 11 times at LJ (#1 three times), 11 times in heptathlon (#1 six times).
Q: What does it mean to you to be elected to the National Track & Field Hall of Fame?
A: I'm excited and overwhelmed. I had thought about it, but once the news came I was very, very pleased.
Q: What's it like for you to look back at your humble beginnings in East St. Louis and realize all the accomplishments you've had in your life?
A: To look back on it, it's remarkable in the sense that I didn't realize when I was younger that I was going to end up where I am now. What I mean by that is that I just wanted to make my parents proud and have fun out there, but not knowing eventually that I would win gold medals and that people all over the world would embrace me. Still today, people ask me for autographs, which is unreal because all this came from athletics for a little girl from East St. Louis.
Q: How did the heptathlon become your specialty?
A: I was very fortunate that as a youngster at meets we would all compete in individual events and then compete in multi-events. When you're young and you don't know any better, you do what your coaches tell you to do. After I started doing the multis, I started setting national records and junior records. They didn't mean a lot to me because I didn't like all the events. When I went to UCLA and started working with Bobby (coach and later husband Bobby Kersee) he felt that I had a lot of talent and he felt that one day I could be a world record holder.
Q: Could you tell us what Bobby has meant to your growth as an athlete?
A: Having someone like Bobby, for me, it has been a blessing because he has been a tremendous force in my life, both on and off the field. Because of that I realized what all he's given to the sport and not just to me but to women trying to be successful. Every athlete he works with, he impacts their lives in more ways than just trying to be a great athlete. He gives his heart and soul in wanting to see his athletes perform at the ultimate level and at times that was misconstrued by other people, who thought he was being mean and we all understood that this was his way of coaching. It was like having a guardian angel over you all the time. What you didn't see, he saw for you. It was remarkable, even today with our relationship
Q: When might someone approach or break your heptathlon world record (7,291 points)?
A: Years ago I used to think that someone would break it and people would ask me if it would bother me if it happened. At those times I've always said, 'no, it won't bother me.' But the more I think about it, yeah, it would bother me if somebody were to break it (laughter). I think in due time it will happen. The key will be the consistency in going over 7,000 (points) and learning what it takes to be a 7,000 heptathlete. That's what I had to do. I think it's going to take three or four ladies competing at that level to push someone to the record.
Q: Could you talk about your many activities that are keeping you busy these days?
A: These days I have the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation. We built the community center (Jackie Joyner-Kersee Boys and Girls Club in East St. Louis, Ill.), where we run 80 programs for kids 6-18. We also have a program for what we call our alumni kids who've graduated from high school and come back to be mentors to the kids. This year we started a senior health and wellness program. Everything that I'm doing now is geared around the Foundation, and I still do a lot of corporate speaking and I'm an advocate for asthma, so I'm working with a lot of health-related issues throughout the country as well as East St. Louis. I'm also involved with USA Track & Field, hoping to see that we are looked upon as not only a powerhouse on the field, but also leaders off the field. It's very important that people respect us. My involvement with the AAC (USATF's Athlete's Advisory Committee), through the support of Sandra Farmer-Patrick (AAC Chair) and Mike C! onley (USATF Executive Director of Elite Athlete Services), really has been very insightful and challenging.
For more information on the National Track & Field Hall of Fame, visit www.usatf.org.