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January 31, 2006 > Mingle with the mighty

Mingle with the mighty

Willie Davenport Track and Field Clinic returns February 4th

Each year, Union City and specifically James Logan High School's track and field area, becomes a key destination for past Olympian greats. Named for Olympian Willie Davenport, some of the great names from past Olympics gather to pass on their knowledge and rekindle friendships. Saturday, February 4th is the magic day and Logan Coach Lee Webb, host of the event, noted that from a small group of 60 who attended the first gathering 19 years ago, last year's attendance reached 1,700 aspiring athletes. During the all day event, attendees will have an opportunity to mingle with athletes whose names are indelibly printed in sports history.

A leader on the track for many years as one of the fastest men to be able to sprint and hurdle, five-time Olympian Willie Davenport led an exemplary life off the track as well. He 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. As a man of outstanding character, Davenport was happy to lend his support to local coach Lee Webb of Union City's James Logan High School when he asked for help to create a Track and Field Clinic for youth to help aspiring athletes "learn by doing."

When the Willie Davenport Olympian Track and Field Clinic began nineteen years ago, the challenge of gathering Olympians to help local youth was daunting, but Webb knew he could not fail. After all, he had the backing of a man who won a bronze medal in the 1976 Montreal Olympics after recovering from a severe knee injury that doctors had pronounced fatal to any further hopes of Olympic competition. Davenport's spirit was pivotal for others and he was selected to carry the American Flag in the closing ceremonies of the Montreal games.

Davenport's legacy lives on through the efforts of Webb and the enthusiastic participation by such legends as Olympic champion sprinters John Carlos, Tommie Smith and Lee Evans; Dick Fosbury, 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; Don Bragg, Pole Vault; Suzy Powell, Discus; Mel Pender, 4x100 relay; Harold Connolly, Hammer Throw; Charlie Greene, 100 meters; Mike Powell, Long Jump; Kevin Young, 400 meter hurdles; and many others.

Those attending the clinic can move between disciplines and meet all the athletes. Participants are free to join instruction and critique sessions on events including Triple Jump/Long Jump, High Jump, Pole Vault, Sprints, Hurdles, Distance, Shot Put, Discus and Javelin. Each year, new faces stop by. Coach Webb says that the circle of "Olympian friends" who attend grows. "They are like family," says Webb. Last year, Wyomia Tyus, Renaldo Brown and Ed Caruthers and Dick Fosbury joined the group.

Olympic champions will also be in town for a special "Evening of Champions" on Saturday, February 4th at the Union City Crowne Plaza. This dinner program will be attended by many notable Olympians including John Carlos, Tommie Smith and Lee Evans. Each table will host an Olympian. Proceeds will go to support community track and field, Special Olympics and Olympians in Need programs. Festivities will include an evening of jazz and a silent auction of sports memorabilia.

For those who prefer to rub shoulders with Olympians on the golf course, The Willie Davenport Celebrity Golf Tournament will allow you to match your skills with Olympians at the Metropolitan Golf Course in Oakland. This event will be held on Friday, February 3rd.

Willie Davenport Olympian Track and Field Clinic
Saturday, February 4, 2006
8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
James Logan High School
1800 "H" Street, Union City
$10 Youth
$20 Individuals
$350 Teams (unlimited)
For more information, call Lee Webb
(510) 471-2520 x5113 or (510) 304-7172

Evening of Champions
Saturday, February 4, 2006
6:30 p.m.
Union City Crowne Plaza
32083 Alvarado-Niles Rd., Union City
For more information, call Lee Webb (510) 304-7172, Ron Mickle (408) 264-6182 or Vivian DiSano (650) 438-3837.

Willie Davenport Celebrity Golf Tournament
Friday, February 3, 2006
Check-in: 11 a.m.; Shotgun Tee time: 12 noon
Metropolitan Golf Course, Oakland
Entry fee: $175 includes green fees, cart, box lunch, Olympian Track and Field polo shirt, goodie bags, buffet dinner and raffle tickets. Awards to top 3 teams.
Sign up and information, call Lee Webb (510) 304-7172

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