HOUSTON – Houston Cougar Track & Field Head Coach and legendary United States Olympic athlete Leroy Burrell has been named as a 2017 inductee into the USATF National Track & Field Hall of Fame, the organization announced this week.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” Burrell said. “When they announced it, I tweeted that it’s a big honor to be named to the Hall of Fame and join Carl Lewis and Johnny Gray, who were my Santa Monica Track Club Teammates. It’s amazing that, when I thought about it, I made it before Michael Marsh, Steve Lewis, Danny Everett and Kevin Young, who were all multiple Olympic gold medalists, so it’s a tremendous honor. It gives you a chance to look back on your career and notice that you accomplished some really great things. Being recognized for that is incredibly rewarding.”
Burrell will be enshrined as a member of the 2017 class alongside Bryan Clay, Patty vanWolvelaere, Lindy Remigino and Bill Squires. The class will be inducted at the USATF Black Tie & Sneakers Gala in New York City, on Nov. 2.
“I was surprised,” Burrell said. “They called me while I was in my office and it threw me for a little bit of a loop. As time has passed, it’s started to sink in a little bit more. I’m sure that as we get closer to the induction ceremony in November, it will get even more emotional. It’s a great honor.”
Burrell began making a name for himself in 1985, when he single handedly won the Class 3-A track & field title for Penn Wood High School. Burrell took gold in the 100- and 200-meter dashes as well as the long jump and triple jump to lead the Patriots to the state title.
Burrell made international headlines four years later when he helped the Santa Monica Track Club break the 4x200-meter relay in Koblenz, Germany. The squad also consisting of Assistant Coach and Houston legend Carl Lewis, Director of Student-Athlete Development at Houston, Floyd Heard and Danny Everett ran 1:20.26 to set the world mark.
Just two seasons after his record-setting relay run, Burrell garnered his first individual world record when he ran 9.90 in the 100-meter at the TAC Championships in New York City.
When his career was over, Burrell had set world record marks in the 4x100-meter relay as well as two more 4x200-meter relay times and a recapture of the 100-meter dash record in 1994.
At the collegiate level, Burrell claimed three NCAA Championships including a pair of long jump crowns in the indoor slate. In the outdoor circuit, Burrell claimed gold at the 1990 NCAA Outdoor Championships with a title in the 100-meter dash.
Burrell returned to Houston as the Head Coach of the track & field program in 1998 after the retirement of legendary coach and his mentor Tom Tellez. In 20 years as head coach, Burrell has won 33 conference championships and has coached Errol Nolan to an indoor National Championship in the 400-meter dash in 2013 as well as the 2017 National Champions in the 4x100-meter relay.
Inductees will receive a commemorative Hall of Fame ring from USATF at The Armory in Washington Heights. The star-studded event brings together entertainment stars, business executives and the sport’s greats - both present and legendary - to celebrate another successful year of Team USATF performances.
“It is an honor to recognize the Class of 2017 for their contributions to the history and advancement of our sport,” USATF CEO Max Siegel said. “All of our inductees not only have achieved competitive success worthy of selection, they also have made substantial impacts in their respective communities.”
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