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National Track & Field Hall of Fame Q&A: Butch Reynolds

10/24/2016
 

In advance of National Track & Field Hall of Fame induction ceremony on November 3 in New York City, USATF interviewed Class of 2016 inductees on their athletic careers and legacies.

 

Today’s Feature: Butch Reynolds

 

Modern Athlete Inductee Butch Reynolds (Akron, Ohio) made his biggest mark in 1988 in Zurich where he ran a 43.29 400m, shattering the 43.86 world record previously set by Hall of Famer Lee Evans in 1968. He also won several Olympic and World medals throughout his career.

 

In 1995, Reynolds established the Butch Reynolds Care For Kids Foundation (BRCFK) for youth in his community. He is currently an assistant track coach at Ohio Dominican University. Click here for a full bio.

 

How did you get started in track and field and when did you first realize your potential?  

I got involved in the fifth grade at (my) local elementary school in Akron, Ohio. I wanted to run in middle school but I got cut from making the team. So my interest wasn't the same until I got to high school.

 

My dad, who was very insistent on academics and pushing us, told us we had to work a certain amount of hours every week. He told us that if we did sports we could count that time toward our hours. So every time I did track I was able to cash in my ‘20-30 hours,’ so I wouldn't have to work at all. One thing led to another and I started to excel. In Track and Field, I was undefeated - there was no one close.”

 

On coaches who believed in him: “My coach at Butler County Community College made me a sign that said ‘43.86 seconds - Break This World Record.’ By then it was like a 16-year-old record and when I broke it, it was a 20-year-old world record. I didn't know what the world record was; I didn't know who ran the 400 meters; I had no idea why he brought me that sign.

 

He told me, ‘If you focus, you can break this world record. I want you to put it on your wall and look at it every day.’ So I put it on my dorm wall, and when I moved to my apartment I put it on my wall there, and I looked at it every day.

 

This is all about a path, all about a journey. And you gotta stay positive no matter what your path or your journey. I thank the Heavenly Father every day for those stories and the stories since that day that I've experienced. My life has been one learning, motivating experience and I wouldn't change it.”

 

On finding his life's purpose through helping youth: “I thought my mission in life was to be the fastest man in the world. I thought my mission in life was to win gold medals. But my real mission in life is to be a motivator, to mentor these kids and let them know you can shoot for the moon and if you miss, you're still among the stars.

 

Sometimes there's no gold medals in that. There's no world record holders in that. And I'm fine with that. That's what keeps me secure; that's what keeps me happy. Yes, you get knocked down a few times in life but that makes you who you are. I have had my share of fights... You gotta go through something to know how strong you are.”

 

“Ever since I stopped running, I've been giving back and I'm not stopping.”

 

On being inducted into National Track & Field Hall of Fame:I feel good about accepting the award. Being in any Hall of Fame is an honor, especially USA Track & Field since what it means to me and my path and my direction in getting here - my faith, not giving up. I'm more proud of that fact - just not giving up and staying true to what's important.”

 

The Class of 2016 will be inducted at USATF’s second annual Black Tie & Sneakers Gala on November 3 in New York City. The red carpet event will also feature stars from the Olympic Games in Rio, as well as Legacy Award and Groundbreaker Award presentations. Proceeds benefit USATF’s Elite Mentorship Program. Visit usatfgala.com for more information.

 

For more on all 2016 National Track and Field Hall of Fame inductees, click here.

 


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