INDIANAPOLIS – Trailblazers and living legends comprise the 41st National Track & Field Hall of Fame induction class featuring Stacy Dragila, Lance Deal, Tom Burke, Pat “Paddy” Ryan and contributor Theodore “Ted” Corbitt, USA Track & Field announced Friday.
The group will be honored Thursday evening, Dec. 4, at the Jesse Owens Awards and Hall of Fame Banquet, which is a part of the USATF Annual Meeting in Anaheim, California.
Dragila, the first women’s Olympic pole vault champion, holds two IAAF World Championships and a World Indoor Championship title as well. She joins four-time Olympian and Olympic silver medalist Lance Deal on the slate of modern athlete inductees, which includes those who have retired within the past 25 years.
Tom Burke, who competed in the first modern Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, in 1896, and hammer throw legend Pat “Paddy” Ryan represent the two veteran athlete inductees, which include those who have been retired for 25 years or more. Both two-time Olympic medalists, Burke won gold in the 100 and 200 meters at the inaugural Games, while Ryan earned gold in hammer throw and silver in weight throw at the Antwerp 1920 Games in Belgium.
The Contributor honor is presented to someone who has made a significant impact on growing the sport of track and field. Receiving the honor is Ted Corbitt, a man regarded as the “Father of American Distance Running.” Not only was he the first African-American marathoner to make the U.S. Olympic Team, but he was also also the founder of USATF’s Road Running Technical Council, where he became the galvanizing force behind measuring and certifying the official distances of race courses.
Biographies for each candidate can be found below.
USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world’s oldest organized sports, some of the most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the country’s #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States. For more information on USATF, visit www.usatf.org.
About the National Track & Field Hall of Fame
The finalists from each category are selected by a screening panel from a list of nominations. Panelists examine the nominees and evaluate their merits. Elections for modern and veteran athletes are held each year. Elections for coaches are held in odd-numbered years with contributors elected in even-numbered years. Hall of Fame inductees, members of the National Track & Field Hall of Fame board and panels and members of the media vote on elections for the National Track & Field Hall of Fame.
Lance Earl Deal
Lance Deal’s achievements are still standing, nearly 14 years after his last international competition. The four-time Olympian threw 81.12/266-2 for the silver medal at the Atlanta 1996 Games just two months prior to tossing 82.52/270-9 in Milan, Italy, to claim the IAAF MOBIL Grand Prix Final and the American record, which he still holds today. Deal competed as a member of Team USA at four World Championships, four Olympic Games and a World Cup en route to earning eleven top-10 finishes in a single decade (1991-2000), as well as a Pan American Games gold in 1999. Deal achieved a No.1 world ranking in 1996 and still claims 16 of the top-20 all-time American throws. He won nine national hammer throw titles and 12 indoor weight throw (35lb) championships, capturing nine in consecutive years. In the weight throw, Deal holds the world best with his 25.86/84-10 at Atlanta in 1995. As a collegian at Montana State University, he was an All-American in discus at the 1984 NCAA Championships. Deal is in his fourth year as director of track & field venues at the University of Oregon, after eight years as an assistant coach for the Ducks.
Stacy Renée Mikaelsen Dragila
Born: March 25, 1971
Stacy Dragila amassed a collection of firsts in an inspiring and storied career during the rise of women’s pole vault. The Auburn, California, native and Idaho State alumna garnered track and field successes in the U.S. and abroad. During a 10-year span from 1996-2005, she was an eight-time U.S. Indoor champion and nine-time U.S. Outdoor champion. Internationally, she won the 1997 World Indoor Championship and two World Championships in 1999 and 2001. In 2001, Dragila won gold medals at the Goodwill Games and IAAF Grand Prix Final championships. She won the first women’s pole vault competition held at an Olympic Games, clearing 4.60/15-1 at the Sydney 2000 Games to equal her own world record set in 1999. Dragila stayed on top of the world for nearly four years, re-setting the world record four more times before Yelena Isinbayeva took over the record in July 2003. Dragila is the 2000 and 2001 recipient of the Jesse Owens Award, USATF’s annual honor for the athlete of the year.
Born: January 15, 1875; Died: February 14, 1929
Thomas Edward Burke was the first American to become a two-time Olympic gold medalist, reeling in the double at the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, in Athens, Greece. At age 21, he blew away fields in both the 100 and 400 meters to earn the gold medal with times of 12.0 and 54.2 respectively. Prior to competing in the Olympic Games, Burke won the 1895 AAU 440-yard title and captured the crown again in both 1896 and 1897. Burke is a three-time IC4A Champion, including twice at 440 yards. Having competed for the New York Athletic Club, Burke spent his later life in Boston, where he founded a law practice and wrote for both the Boston Journal and Boston Post.
Born: January 4, 1883; Died: February 13, 1964
Pat “Paddy” Ryan was born in Limerick, Ireland, and anxiously awaited the day he could compete in the Olympic Games. In 1902 at age 19, he won his first Irish national title before emigrating to the United States and settling in Boston in 1910. Ryan competed for Winged Fist Irish American Athletic Club, placing third at the 1911 AAU meeting and finishing runner-up in 1912. His citizenship had not been confirmed in time for the 1912 Olympic Games, so he continued to hone his craft. In 1913, Ryan won his first AAU title, which set the first IAAF World Record with a toss of 57.75m/189-6, a mark that remained unbroken for more than 25 years. In 1917, Ryan took up the 56-pound weight throw and won that title as well. His American citizenship was finally confirmed in 1916, but World War I cancelled the Games, forcing him into four more years of anticipation. Ryan joined the U.S. Armed Forces and served in France. He returned in 1919 and won that year’s national hammer throw title. In 1920, he again clinched the national hammer throw championship to finally earn his spot on the U.S. Olympic Team heading for Antwerp, Belgium. At age 37, Ryan won Olympic gold by more than 15 feet to record the largest margin of victory in any Olympic Games, and he also won silver in the 56-pound weight throw, tossing 10.96m/35-11.5 In 1924, he returned to his family’s farm in Limerick, where he raised his family and lived out his life until he passed away at age 81.
Theodore “Ted” Corbitt
January 31, 1919 – December 12, 2007
Ted Corbitt was the first African-American marathoner named to the U.S. Olympic Team and is affectionately regarded as the “Father of Distance Running” in the U.S. He was an athlete in his own right, but his greatest contribution to the sport was as founder of USA Track & Field’s Road Running Technical Council. Corbitt created a national program for accurate road measurement and certification, as he oversaw a list of nationally certified courses and handpicked road course certifiers. He wrote the 1964 booklet “Measuring Road Running Courses,” which opened the door to a strategic program for measuring, verifying and certifying American race course distances. Born in 1919 in Dunbarton, South Carolina, Corbitt competed as a distance athlete at the University of Cincinnati. He overcame racial prejudice and was sometimes unable to compete in areas deemed too dangerous, but his challenges only deepened his desire to succeed. Corbitt served in the U.S. Armed Forces in World War II in Okinawa before taking on Pacific Theater duties after the war. In 1950, he earned a masters degree in physical therapy and remained committed to his love for distance running. Corbitt was elected president of the New York Road Runners Club in the late 1950s and was president of the Road Runners Club of America in 1960 and 1961. A man of many passions, Corbitt was a clinician, teacher, physical therapist, editor and avid runner up until 2007, when he passed away at the age of 88.
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