Penn Relays is stepping stone for Olympians

Posted: August 25, 2008

If you were at the Penn Relays in April 2004, you might have noticed the tall, lanky kid running a 4 x 100 relay leg for William Knipp High of Jamaica.

That was three-time Olympic champion and world record setter Usain Bolt, who also ran at Franklin Field a year later with a Jamaican team in the USA vs. the World series.

Quick research by Penn Relays Meet Director Dave Johnson shows a total of 48 2008 Olympic medal winners have run at Franklin Field since the 2004 Olympics, whether at the high school, college or professional level. That includes 18 gold medalists, 11 men and seven women.

Throw in the two medalists who were disqualified in the men's 200 meters and at least 26 other nonmedalists, the total of 2008 Olympians, of every nationality, who have recently competed at Penn is 76.

And nine of them were named either an outstanding Relays college or high school performer.

Bolt, like every Jamaican at the Olympics, was just one of thousands of faces in the crowd of high school runners when he competed at Penn in 2004. But he is the latest to be added to the list of Penn Relays participant/Olympic gold medalist, which includes someone from every Games except 1980.

So if you want to get a head start on your 2012 Olympic track and field fantasy team, keep an eye on the next four Penn Relays. *

-Frank Bertucci

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