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USATF Mourns Loss of Legendary Coach Charles Foster


Olympic hurdler and esteemed coach Charles Foster passed away on Sunday, March 31, 2019 at the age of 65.

Foster, a dominant hurdler prior to becoming a stellar coach, was the high school state champion and the 1971 Junior National Champion in the 120-yard high hurdles at Gaffney High School in Gaffney, South Carolina. At North Carolina Central University from 1971-75, Foster repeated as the NAIA national champion in the indoor 60-yard hurdles and won the NCAA outdoor 120-yard hurdles national championship in 1974 with a time of 13.35. In 1975, he won the gold at the World University Games in the the 110m hurdles in Rome.

In 1977, Foster claimed the bronze medal at the IAAF World Cup in Dusseldorf, Germany. The following year he won the 110m hurdles at the Olympic Trials to earn his spot on the U.S. Olympic Team where he narrowly missed the podium with his fourth place finish in Montreal.

Foster graduated from North Carolina Central University in 1975 and studied therapeutic recreation and administration for two years postgraduate at the University of North Carolina

After his professional career, Foster went on to coach for nearly 30 years at the collegiate and international levels. Coached two Olympic gold medalists, one silver medalist and one bronze, including Olympians Allen Johnson and Sharon Couch, as well as 12 other Olympians and more than 50 All-Americans.

Including coaching stints at the University of North Carolina, Clemson University and Virginia Tech, Foster was the Manager for Sports Planning on the Atlanta Committee for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and served on the Special Olympics World Summer Games Organizing Committee from 1997-99.

Foster returned to coaching in 1999 and spent the next 10 years coaching sprints, hurdles and relays at Clemson, where he was named the 2008 NCAA Assistant Track Coach of the Year by the United States Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association.

A former American record holder in the indoor 60m hurdles, Foster received the Distinguished Citizen Award of North Carolina, the highest award presented in the state.

Foster is survived by his wife Sophronia, and his daughter, Sydney.

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