Monday, February 04, 2008
The 1968 Olympic Games, best remembered for the black-gloved fists of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, would have been unforgettable even without that controversial salute on the medal stand, after Smith won the gold medal and Carlos the bronze in the 400-meter dash.
The Mexico City Olympics were memorable simply because of the dominance of the United States track and field team.
Americans broke a slew of world records: Jim Hines in the 100-meter dash, Lee Evans 400-meter dash, Dick Fosbury in the high jump, Bob Beamon in the long jump. Evans won another gold medal, in the 1600-meter relay, on a team that included Charlie Greene and Mel Pender. Wyomia Tyus won her second consecutive gold medal in the women’s 100, and Barbara Ferrell won the silver, and the two also won gold in the 400-meter relay.
With the 40th anniversary of the ’68 Games approaching, Carlos, Hines, Evans, Fosbury, Beamon, Greene, Pender, Tyus and Ferrell will be reunited this week for “Olympians Week,” leading up to the annual Willie Davenport Olympian Track and Field Clinic on Saturday at James Logan High School.
Under the direction of Logan track and field coach and former Olympic Trials decathlete Lee Webb, more than 60 former Olympians will take part in the clinic, which last year attracted more than 1,500 young athletes.
But the clinic is only part of the story.
Starting Tuesday, Olympians will visit schools throughout the New Haven Unified School District to tell their stories. Coach Webb, who began bringing the Olympians to school assemblies last year, hopes they will inspire elementary, middle and high school students “to set and achieve high goals, as well as chose paths in life that will take them to success.”
Among those scheduled to speak at the school assemblies are Hines, Greene, Pender and another veteran of the Mexico City Games, high jumper Reynaldo Brown. Others scheduled to speak include Eddie Hart, the world’s fastest human in 1972 and a gold medalist in the 400-meeter relay at the Munich Games; three-time Olympic pentathlete Marilyn King; three-time Olympic javelin thrower Duncan Atwood and world-class hurdler George Carty.
The Olympians will begin their visits Tuesday at Kitayama and Hillview Crest elementary schools. The complete schedule of assemblies:
Tuesday, February 5
● 8:10:10 a.m.: Kitayama Elementary, 1959 Sunsprite Drive, Union City.
● Noon-2 p.m.: Hillview Crest Elementary, 34110 Wheelon Ave., Hayward.
Wednesday, February 6
● 8:30-10 a.m.: Pioneer Elementary, 32737 Bel Aire St., Union City.
● 10 a.m.-noon: Alvarado Middle, 31604 Alvarado Blvd., Union City.
● 1-2 p.m.: Searles Elementary, 33629 15th St., Union City.
Thursday, February 7
● 8:30-11:30 a.m.: Barnard-White Middle, 725 Whipple Rd., Union City.
● Noon-2 p.m.: Cesar Chavez Middle, 2801 Hop Ranch Rd., Union City.
Friday, February 8
● 8:30-10:30 a.m.: Emanuele Elementary, 100 Decoto Rd., Union City.
● Noon-2 p.m.: Alvarado Elementary, 31100 Fredi St., Union City.
● 2:30-3:30 p.m.: James Logan High, 1800 H St., Union City.
In addition, Coach Webb and the Olympians will be recognized by the New Haven Board of Education at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, at the beginning of the Board’s regular meeting at the Educational Services Center, 34200 Alvarado-Niles Rd., Union City.
On Saturday, registration for the Willie Davenport Olympian Track and Field Clinic begins at 8 a.m. The clinic runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., followed by a “meet-and-greet” session and a sports auction from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
Cost of the clinic is $25. Young athletes can register for the clinic or get more information on the Logan track and field website (www.logantrackandfield.com).