18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

In The Presence of Legends

I’m down south in Walnut California (Los Angeles area) to help run a track and field camp at Mount San Antonio College, better known as Mount Sac. Mount Sac is famous for having one of the toughest high school cross country events in the nation, and for hosting the most prestigious and professionally run track and field competition California has to offer every year, the Mount Sac Relays.
Being down in Southern California in the winter makes it easy to realize why so many people live here. It was a sunny 70 degrees yesterday without a cloud in the sky, and all the trees, grass and even bushes are a vibrant green. Being an outdoor type myself, my mind can’t even comprehend how beautiful this place must have been before all these roads and buildings were plopped down on it. But with all this modernity comes many advantages and opportunities.
When I was invited to run this camp I was not sure what to expect. My friend and peer Brian Yokoyama called and said they needed a few extra good people and he would like it if I could make it, so I agreed. That was about all the details that I got. Now that I am here I realize that this is a very special camp and I am extremely flattered to have been invited to help. Yesterday in front of the mass of campers I was invited to speak and tell my story. Guess who else went up to talk and are coaches at this camp…….

Willie Banks; Former world record holder in the triple jump and the athlete who invented the rhythm clap for the audience that is still used today for almost every field event in track and field.
Mike Powell; The current world record holder in the long jump, which is one of the longest standing world records in track and field, set back in 1991 in Tokyo, he broke Bob Beamons record which stood for 22 years, by jumping 8.95m roughly  29’4.5” converted. Upsetting the great Carl Lewis, Mike had unbelievable talent.
Dick Fosberry; Former world record holder in the High Jump, and the inventor of the Fosberry Flop, which is the current technique used by every high jumper in the world.  

All three of these men changed Track and Field forever, for the good of the sport, whether they planned to or not. The ripple effect created by there innovation has touched most of us in the sport in some way, and has changed the lives of thousands of athletes in the years since. It is an honor to be coaching along side of them and I hope I am given this opportunity again in the future.
One last thing I’d like to share is that in 1991, Track and Field was still on TV from time to time, and the World Championships in Tokyo, Japan was aired. A ten year old kid, who knew little of the world of track and field, happened to be tuned in with his father who was sharing in the excitement of the battle between Mike Powell and Carl Lewis as they exchanged the World Record between them, back and forth during the competition, like it was a standard affair. Seeing those two men fly though the air like they had just jumped off the roof of a moving bus was so unbelievable and inspiring. That kid knew, that someday that would be him. He was going to make it happen. That kid was me, and the long jump didn’t wind up being my strong suit, but pole vault is pretty awesome. I still plan to have a televised battle on the world stage, and I have to thank Mike Powell for it (and I did yesterday in front of about 100 people). He is undoubtedly the reason I got involved in the great sport of track and field. 

Here is that competition if you are looking for some inspiration today.

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