USATF announces 2008 Hall of Fame Inductees

11-04-2008

Contact:
Tom Surber
Media Information Manager
USA Track & Field
317-713-4690

INDIANAPOLIS - Some of the greatest athletes of their generations, including track & field legends Johnny Gray, Don Bowden, Bill Carr and Bernie Wefers, are joined by contributor Jimmy Carnes as the 2008 inductees into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame. The Class of 2008 was announced Tuesday by USA Track & Field.

The Class of 2008 will be inducted Saturday evening, December 6, at the Jesse Owens Awards and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, held in conjunction with USATF's 2008 Annual Meeting in Reno Nevada.

"All of us involved with the National Track & Field Hall of Fame are looking forward to the addition of these highly accomplished individuals to the Hall of Fame," said USATF President Bill Roe. "All five of these individuals are deserving of the highest honor in our sport. We look forward to welcoming and saluting the legacies of our three living inductees in person, and sharing cherished memories of our deceased inductees with family, friends, and colleagues."

Having set five American records, including the current AR, Gray is considered one of the greatest 800m runners in U.S. history. He qualified for four Olympic Teams and won the bronze medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

A 1956 Olympic Team member, Veteran inductee Don Bowden was the first American ever to break the four-minute barrier in the mile. He was an NCAA champion in the 880 yards as well.

A double gold medalist at the 1932 Olympic Games and a world record holder in the 400 meters, Bill Carr was one of America's finest track athletes of the 1930s, in any discipline. Track & Field News named him the top 400m runner for 1925-1949.

Veteran inductee Bernie Wefers was one of the world's fastest men during the late 1800s. He was a multiple world record holder for 100 and 220 yards and was three times ranked #1 in the world for the 100.

Contributor inductee Jimmy Carnes was the initial President of TAC/USA, which is now USA Track & Field. The founder of the Florida Track Club, Carnes also served as executive director of the Florida Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

About the National Track & Field Hall of Fame

There are four categories in which individuals may be voted into the Hall of Fame. Those categories are: Modern athletes, retired less than 25 years; Veteran athletes, retired more than 25 years or more; Coaches; and Contributors. Each category has its own selection committee that chooses the finalists from the list of nominations. Members of the selection committees examine the nominations and evaluate their merit based on objective criteria. Elections for Modern and Veteran athletes are held each year. Beginning in 2005, elections for Coaches are held in odd numbered years, with Contributors elections in even numbered years. Hall of Fame inductees, members of the National Track & Field Hall of Fame Board and Committees and members of the media comprise the electorate for the National Track & Field Hall of Fame.

Class of 2008 Biographies

Biographies for the "Class of 2008" for the National Track & Field Hall of Fame follow:

MODERN ATHLETES

JOHNNY GRAY: A four-time Olympian considered to be one of the finest 800m runners in U.S. history, Johnny Gray's best performance in Olympic competition was in 1992 in Barcelona, when he won the 800m bronze medal. A three-time U.S. World Outdoor Championships team member, Gray's best finish in that event was sixth in 1991. A seven-time U.S. 800m outdoor champion, Gray also won the 1986 USA Indoor 1,000y national title. He set the USA outdoor 800m record on five occasions and is the current record holder (1:42.60, 1985). Gray also set the USA 800m indoor record five different times, and set the current standard of 1:45.0 in 1992. He set the U.S. 1,000y indoor record in 1986 and was world ranked top ten 11 times. He was ranked #1 in the U.S. eight times by Track & Field News.

VETERAN ATHLETES

DON BOWDEN: A 1956 Olympian at 1,500 meters, Don Bowden is best known for being the first American ever to break the 4-minute barrier in the mile. Bowden became the U.S. mile record holder when he ran 3:58.7 in Stockton, Calif., on June 1, 1957, which made him the first American to break 4:00. The 1957 NCAA Outdoor 880y champion, Bowden was world ranked #3 in the 800 meters by Track & Field News in 1957. He also ran the third leg (1:49.5) for the University of California quartet that set the 4x880y relay world record of 7:21.0 in Los Angeles on May 24, 1957.

BILL CARR: The 1932 Olympic 400m gold medalist, Bill Carr also captured gold at the '32 Los Angeles Olympics as anchor of the 4x400m relay USA team that finished in the world record time of 3:08.2. Also in 1932, Carr set the 400m world record of 46.28, along with winning the Olympic Trials and AAU Outdoor 400m titles. The 1931 AAU Indoor national 300-yards champion, Carr won the IC4A 440y title in 1932. He ended the 1932 season ranked #1 in the world at 400 meters, and was named the men's #1 400m runner for1925-49 by Track & Field News World Athletes of the Century. Shortly after the 1932 Olympic Games, Carr was injured in an automobile accident that ended his competitive career. He died on January 14, 1966.

BERNIE WEFERS: A three-time USA 100y and 220y champion and two-time IC4A 100y champion, Bernie Wefers is considered one of the most dominant sprinters of his era. The 1896 IC4A 220y champion, Wefers tied the 100y world record three times and was a two-time 220y-straight world record holder. During his career, Wefers owned the 220y-turn world record four times, was world ranked in the 100m/100y four times, and on three occasions was ranked #1 globally. He was world ranked in 200m/200y on four occasions (three times #1), and was world ranked at 400m/440y on two occasions. He won the 100y (=WR) and 220y (WR) at the 1895 New York A.C. vs. London A.C. dual meet, and he is the only sprinter other than Hall of Fame inductee Ralph Metcalfe to win three consecutive national championships 100/200 doubles. He died on April 18, 1957.

CONTRIBUTOR

JIMMY CARNES: One of the leading figures in the formation of The Athletics Congress/USA, as USATF was known when it began operations, Jimmy Carnes was TAC's first president (1980-1984) and worked closely with executive director Ollan Cassell as the sport moved from amateur to open rules. He presided over TAC's constitutional convention in Dallas during the spring of 1980, where the organization's bylaws were finalized, and he assisted in the formation of TACTRUST, which was the first step towards open track competition. The IAAF later approved TAC's concept of TACTRUST on a global basis. Also during Carnes' presidency, the NCAA, which hadn't participated in track's governance for years due to a feud with the AAU, became a TAC member. The founder of the Florida Track Club, whose members included Hall of Fame inductees Frank Shorter and Marty Liquori, Carnes later served as the Executive Director of the United States Track Coaches Association and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the United States Sports Academy. He is a member of the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (formerly USTCA) Hall of Fame.

For more information on the National Track & Field Hall of Fame, visit: www.usatf.org.