Track and Field at the Olympics
3 min read
Across the thirty modern Olympic Games that have been held so far, track and field have been such a permanent feature they have almost became synonymous with the Games themselves. Ever since Thomas Burke and Ellery Clark won gold for the US in 1896, the world has been fascinated by greats from Jesse Owens and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, to Usain Bolt and Lolo Jones. [caption id="attachment_10767" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Jackie Joyner-Kersee - UCLA - 6 Olympic Medals[/caption] The University of Arkansas, though not often viewed as among the most athletic schools in the US, has consistently produced alumni that show extreme talent on the track. Athletes such as Wallace Spearmon – the eighth fastest 200m runner of all time – and Veronica Campbell-Brown – a seven time Olympic medalist – are both former Razorbacks. During London 2012, Arkansas sent 12 track and field athletes to the Games, more than Florida, LSU or Texas A&M. This year at Rio, talents like Chrishuna Williams, Alexis Weeks and Tyson Gay helped to further establish them as a force to be reckoned with, when it comes to athletics. Across the country in California, the UCLA Bruins were well represented, when it comes to track and field in Rio. This year, Meb Keflezighi was the only UCLA alumnus participating as a track and field athlete – but the Eritrean native stands a good chance of placing after coming second in the team trials. Across the years, many Bruins have taken to the track, including Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who went on to win three gold medals after graduating from the school in 1985. She is now regarded as the greatest female athlete of all time, and is a source of inspiration for many athletes who attend the school. Not to be dwarfed by the bigger schools, the University of Oregon is also a surprisingly strong competitor at the Olympic games. After sending 12 track and field athletes to London in 2012, the school returned with gold, after Ashton Eaton broke the world record in the decathlon. However, this was not the first time the school experienced such success. Oregon legend Mac Wilkins returned from Montreal with a gold in discus throwing after the 1976 Games, while Brazilian Joaquim Cruz won gold in LA in 1984, while he was still attending the school. This success is something they hoped to repeat at Rio, when nine members of the US track and field team represented the Ducks – including English Gardner, Jenna Prandini and Devon Allen.