ISTANBUL, TURKEY – The IAAF announced Thursday that Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Carl Lewis, Edwin Moses, Al Oerter and Jesse Owens will be among the initial 12 members of the inaugural class for the IAAF Hall of Fame. The IAAF and President Lamine Diack made the announcement at a press conference held at the Turkish Olympic House in preparation for the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships, which will begin Friday and run through Sunday at the Atakoy Athletic Arena.
The IAAF announced the initial 12 names for induction into the Hall of Fame Thursday while the remaining 12 names will be announced at some point before the official induction ceremony, which is scheduled for November 24, 2012, at the IAAF Centenary Gala in Barcelona.
A “Who’s Who in American track and field”, Owens, Lewis, Oerter, Moses and Joyner-Kersee are all members of the USA Track & Field National Hall of Fame. Along with the announcement, the IAAF states the strict criteria for induction, which says athletes must have won at least two Olympic or World Championships gold medals and have set at least one world record. Athletes also need to be retired from the sport for 10 years.
“As part of the celebrations to mark the centennial year of the International Association of Athletics Federations, the IAAF is proud to announce the inauguration of the IAAF Hall of Fame in 2012,” President Diack said. “The creation of the IAAF Hall of Fame which has long been a vision of the sport’s world governing body is an excellent way not only to honor the lifetime achievements of our greatest athletes, but also heighten public awareness of our sport and its rich history.”
One of the most famous American athletes of all time, Jackie Joyner-Kersee was voted the Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century by Sports Illustrated. In her time as a multi-event athlete, Joyner-Kersee won three Olympic gold medals and four World Outdoor Championships gold medals. She established the world record four times in the heptathlon and did so once in the long jump. From 1985 until 1991 Joyner-Kersee won 12 consecutive heptathlon competitions.
Few will ever be able to duplicate the nine Olympic gold medals, eight World Championships gold medals and nine world records Carl Lewis was a part of during his time as a sprinter and jumper. The IAAF induction is the latest honor for Lewis as he was also voted Male Athlete of the 20th Century by the IAAF and Sportsman of the Century by the International Olympic Committee. He not only equaled Owens’ four-gold-medal performance at the 1984 Olympic Games, but he also won long jump Olympic gold four consecutive times from 1984 until 1996. Lewis set the world record in the 100m three different times and was part of six world record setting 4x100m teams.
The 122 consecutive races Edwin Moses won during his run in the 400-meter hurdles will go down as one of the better streaks in any sport. Moses won both the 1976 and 1984 Olympic gold medals and would have been the odds-on favorite to win in 1980 if not for the U.S. boycott of the Moscow Games. Between 1977 and 1987 Moses didn’t lose a race in the 400m hurdles. That string also included gold medals at two World Championships and three IAAF world cups.
Al Oerter was the first of his kind in winning four consecutive Olympic gold medals in the discus from 1956 through 1968. Oerter won his first Olympic gold at the age of 20 when he set the Olympic record and became the youngest ever Olympic champion of the event. One of the more dominant throwers the event has ever seen, Oerter established a new Olympic record in each of his four Olympics.
Jesse Owens is known in track and field for a pair of reasons – winning four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games and setting five world records in a 45-minute span in college. In 1936, in the politically charged Games in Berlin, Owens won gold medals in the 100m, 200m, long jump and 4x100m relay. Not until Carl Lewis in 1984, would anyone win those same events in the same Olympics. In 1935, as a student at Ohio State, Owens set world marks in the 100-yard, long jump, 220-yard and 220-yard hurdles all in less than 45 minutes.