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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Superfan HOF--Lee Evans

(Note: As much as possible, the images used in the Hall of Fame series of posts will come from my collection of track & field trading cards, memorabilia, personal photos, and other assorted crap.)

Lee Evans is the first inductee into the Superfan Hall of Fame. They say "May you live in interesting times" is a Chinese curse; Evans' peak year was in 1968, the most interesting yet disturbing year of the post-World War II period. His biography, The Last Protest, is without a doubt the most interesting athletic biography I've ever read.

While Tommie Smith and John Carlos get the attention for their protest at the Mexico City Olympics, Evans was every bit as much the "instigator" as the other two. Yet the truth is that they instigated nothing; T&FN recently republished a 1967 interview with Evans and Smith that reveals much. To get more detail, read the book.

Evans is one of the most accomplished quarter-milers of all time, yet he barely qualified under my points system. He won an Olympic gold medal (one point), earned exactly 75 points in the World Rankings (one point), ranked #1 four times (one point), and set one official world record (one point). Had there been biennial World Championships in his day, he doubtlessly would have walked away with multiple golds; he won five AAU championships (his fifth and qualifying point), all over fields of the world's best quartermilers.

The most amazing thing about Evans as a runner was that he never was caught from behind in the 400m/440y.

Evans joined up with the ITA in 1973 and ran with the outfit through the 1975 season. Since then he has spent his time coaching for various universities and national teams; currently he is at the University of South Alabama. He's currently most known for taking a public and controversial position on AIDS tests; based on what I know about him, I'm not going to reject it out-of-hand as ravings from the tinfoil-hat crowd.

Evans, of course, is not afraid to make verbal bombshells. Upon his induction to the US Olympic Hall of Fame, said "he did not want to be joined there by anyone who has used drugs or steroids to enhance athletic performance". This hardly seems controversial, until you realize that steroids were legal in 1968 and one-third of his 1968 Olympic teammates freely admitted using them.

Year Event Rank Mark Meets, etc.
1966 200m -- 20.9*
400m 1 45.2 1)AAU; undefeated (14 meets)
1967 400m 1 44.9 1)AAU, 1) Pan-Am
1968 200m -- 20.8*
400m 1 43.86A / 45.0 1)NCAA, 1)AAU, 1)FOT, 1)Oly Gms
Third in Athlete of the Year voting; set WR that stood for 19 years
1969 200m 7 20.4
400m 2 44.5 2)NCAA, 1)AAU
Seventh in Athlete of the Year voting
1970 200m -- 20.8
400m 1 45.5+ 2)AAU
1971 400m 9 45.6* dnf-inj)AAU
1972 400m 3 44.3* 1)AAU, 4)FOT
1974 400m -- 45.9* competed in ITA
1975 400m -- 45.9* competed in ITA

* = 440y time less 0.3 seconds, + = en route to 440y
Wikipedia -- USATF HOF

1 comment:

Jefferson Wolfe said...

Hey! I just updated my blog. Here's the site:

You sure do post a lot. I missed a whole month, but I am back on track now.