Kim Batten – 2012 National Track & Field Hall of Fame modern athlete inductee
In a career that has seen her hold the world record, a world championship and an Olympic silver medal, Kim Batten ranks her upcoming induction in the National Track & Field Hall of Fame among the top honors in her career. As a member of the next hall of fame class, Batten will be honored as a modern athlete inductee during the Jesse Owens Hall of Fame Banquet December 1. The ceremony is held as part of the USA Track & Field Annual Meeting in Daytona Beach, Fla. USA Track & Field caught up with Batten in this Q & A.
What are you looking forward to the most about being inducted into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame?
“I’m really excited to meet up with some of my old friends. To see some people I used to run with and see some old faces. It has been awhile since I have been in that circle. This is also an excellent time for me to say thank you to the people that were instrumental in my success and to let them know that I greatly appreciated them and that journey could not have been made without them.”
Is this an honor that surprised you at all?
“Certainly it’s always a surprise when you get that call. I certainly was very grateful. But after the long career that I had I certainly thought that it was possible in closing my career. It has been about 10 years now since I have retired so I was hoping this is something that was going to happen.”
How are you keeping busy these days?
“I am in the fitness industry. I work with young athletes that want to become great hurdlers. That is something I have been doing over the last eight years or so. Prior to that I was in finance and I do a little corporate training these days. More than that I am happy to be working with young athletes and working with corporations in terms of wellness plans and stuff like that.”
When you first started at Florida State you were competing in a number of different events. In your professional career you focused on the 400m hurdles. What was it that made you chose the 400m hurdles?
“Coming out of high school I was actually recruited as a triple jumper. I only ran two years of high school athletics so I was kind of new to the sport when I went to college. But when I got there I think my coach started to realize that I actually did the 400m hurdles in high school, which the New York State actually had rather than the 300m hurdles, so I was pretty acclimated to the 400m hurdles. I was actually a lot better at it than the jumps or even the short hurdles. I think more so than anything the 400m hurdles chose me more than I chose it.”
You are a former world record holder, a member of the Florida State Hall of Fame, an All-American and even won an ESPY. Where does this Hall of Fame induction rank in your career?
“With USA Track & Field being the national standard of excellence in track and field, for me it is the proper closing to a great career. When you talk about closing those doors certainly this allows me to say that I have gotten to the top and I am really honored that USA Track & Field has chosen to give me this opportunity.”
In 1991, when you were just 22 years old, you upset Sandra Farmer-Patrick to win the 1991 USA Outdoor title. Tell us about that day and that experience.
“Coming into that meet I had just left the NCAA meet where I was third. My coach and I had taken a long journey to come up to this meet and I said that I had not performed the way that I wanted to at NCAAs. At that point with it being my senior year I realized more than anything I was going to have to put it on the line and run like I haven’t before and leave nothing to chance. I came into that meet very hungry and very determined to propel myself into the professional ranks. I was lucky enough to have great fitness and a great coach and I was able to win my first national championship.”
Winning the World Outdoor title in 1995, you finished in a virtual tie with Tonja Buford-Bailey when the both of you ran under the world record time. How much fun was that to be a part of?
“It was certainly the race of my life. It was that race I had realized that was the moment I had been waiting for. If you are going to have a race and it’s going to be a good race you better have someone that you really like next to you pushing you the whole way. Tonja Buford-Bailey is a friend of mine and I was elated to see her perform the way she performed. I was elated to win by the narrowest margin. It was exciting as I was at the height on my career.”
Is Tonja Buford-Bailey someone that you continue to keep in touch with?
“Yes I do every now and then. I admire her very much as a person and I admire her very much as an athlete.”
After your December 1 induction, you will be known as Hall of Famer Kim Batten. What will that mean for you?
“It will mean a lot. I carried a few titles over the years as former world record holder and former American record holder so it is definitely an honor to be a Hall of Famer. Any athlete that looks back on their career when it is all said and done, you want to know that your name and your performances will be remembered for times to come.”
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