January 18, 2005 > Olympians Gather at James Logan High School
Olympians Gather at James Logan High School
Willie Davenport Olympian Track and Field Clinic Saturday, February 5
Coach Lee Webb says it began eighteen years ago with an idea to create a Track and Field Clinic at Logan High School. The plan was to help aspiring athletes "learn by doing" with guidance from knowledgeable sports figures and coaches. Five-time Olympian Willie Davenport responded to Webb's request for help and gave his support to the program as it grew.
Davenport's exemplary life on and off the track was a beacon for other Olympians to also participate in the Track and Field Clinic. Not only did Willie Davenport set records on the track, but also served as Director of the Mayor-President Council for Youth Opportunity in Baton Rouge in 1972, earned a Master's degree from Southern University and was the first U.S. sprinter to compete in both Summer and Winter Olympic Games. He was also inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame.
A severe knee injury in 1975 sidelined Davenport and according to physicians should have ended his competitive career. But in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, he earned a bronze medal in the hurdles and carried the American flag in the closing ceremonies. With the support of this man, the track and field clinic could not fail. Coach Webb says, "About sixty young people attended the first clinic; last year, attendance was about sixteen hundred."
The all day event encompasses a wide variety of events and is open to the public, both serious athletes and "weekend warriors" of any age. This year, Coach Webb says that there will about thirty-five Olympians in attendance, all responding to a chance to gather together and talk with others about the events they love. These athletes travel from many parts of the United States to come to the clinic. Included in this illustrious group of famous athletes is Dick Fosbury, Olympic Champion and creator of the "Fosbury Flop" high jump technique; Mac Wilkins, 4 time Olympian in Discus; Al Joyner, 1988 Olympic Triple Jump Champion; Andre Phillips, 400 Hurdle Olympic champion; Dan O'Brien, Gold Medalist, Decathalon; LaTanya Sheffield, 400 Hurdles; Gwen Loud, Long Jump; Suzy Powell, Discus, Mel Pender, 4x100 relay; Harold Connolly, Hammer Throw and the list goes on and on.
Three athletes attending this year still hold world records: Charlie Greene (100 m), Mike Powell (long jump) and Kevin Young (400 m hurdles). Coach Webb says that there will be some new faces among the athletes this year: Wyomia Tyus, Dick Fosbury, Renaldo Brown and Ed Caruthers. The athletes from various Olympic teams like to get together and this is the place they can do it. "They are like family," says Coach Webb.
In addition to hands on sessions, John Carlos and Tommie Smith will discuss sprinting techniques in a morning lecture session. Participant attendance for each discipline is designed to be flexible so those with multiple interests can move between groups. A special group has been designed for small kids interested in track and field events.
Coach Webb says that his circle of "Olympian friends" who attend the track and field clinic has grown since it is an opportunity for them to share their knowledge and skills as well as a time to get together - "a gathering for them." He adds, "I get to know these people and we become friends. Pretty soon they are telling their friends about the event and more Olympians join the group." Each year, Coach Webb says, "They call me and want to come." He adds that these friendships are what keep the clinic going even though it operates at a financial loss.
Following registration and an introduction of athletes and clinicians, participants will be free to join groups working on events including Triple Jump/Long Jump, High Jump, Pole Vault, Sprints, Hurdles, Distance, Shot Put, Discus and Javelin. Lunch will be available on campus for a fee and the afternoon will continue event group instruction and add discussions of strength training and aquatic training. A social gathering will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Union City that evening.
One day prior to the Track and Field Clinic, a golf tournament to help support the clinic will be held at the Metropolitan Golf Links at Oakland. The tournament will feature a "shotgun" start with raffles, lunch, tee prizes and an auction during this full day. Coach Webb invites everyone to sign up and help support his efforts while having a lot of fun.
Willie Davenport Olympian Track and Field Clinic
Open to coaches and athletes of all ages
James Logan High School
1800 "H" Street, Union City
Saturday, February 5
8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
$250 Teams of Unlimited Number
For more information, call Lee Webb
(510) 471-2520 x5113 or (510) 304-7172