Died: Rink Babka, 85
On January 15, of heart failure. The ’60 Olympic discus silver medalist set a World Record 196-6 (59.91) earlier that year. The co-winner of the ‘58 NCAA title for USC, he World Ranked 12 times, with a No. 1 in ’58, plus 4 No. 2s and 2 No. 3s.
Died: Kirk Clayton, 74
On January 18, in California; of cancer. The San José State sprinter World Ranked No. 6 in the 100 in ’68. The next year, he ran a leg on the NCAA-winning 4×1 that set an American Record. A quick starter, he set a HS Indoor Record 5.2 in the 50y in ’65 for Scotlandville, Louisiana, and in ’70 became the first man ever to run 5-flat.
Died: Stanisław Gredziński, 76
On January 19. The ’66 European 400 champ, he Ranked No. 5 in the world that year. He led off Poland’s 4th-place 4×4 in the ’68 Olympics.
Died: Dean Hayes, 84
On January 07, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; of skin cancer. The USTFCCCA Hall Of Fame coach put Middle Tennessee on the map, with 29 Ohio Valley championships, followed by 19 Sun Belt and 7 Conference USA titles. He was a coach for Team USA at the ’88 Olympics and ’97 Worlds.
Died: Barbara Jacket, 87
On January 06, in Richmond, Texas; of dementia and COVID complications. The head coach of the U.S. women’s team at the ’92 Olympics, she started the women’s program at Prairie View A&M, and coached the Panthers to 10 NAIA titles and 14 SWAC crowns.
Died: Ron Jones, 87
On December 30, in Cambridge, England. The British sprinter ran second leg on the 4×110 team that set a World Record 40.0 in defeating the U.S. at a dual meet in ’63. He ran on British Olympic baton squads in ’64 (8th) and ’68 (5th in heat).
Died: Ben Kogo, 77
On January 20, in Eldoret, Kenya. The two-time Olympic steeplechaser was 5th in his heat in ’64, then silver medalist in ’68. He World Ranked 3 times, with a high of No. 2 in ’67.
Died: Bobby Lang, 87
On January 06, in Tallahassee. The longtime coach at Florida A&M led the Rattlers to 30 MEAC titles and is in the USTFCCCA Hall Of Fame.
Died: Deon Lendore, 29
On January 10, in Bryan, Texas; in a car accident. Texas A&M’s NCAA 400 champ indoors and out and Bowerman Award winner in ’14, The Trinidadian won Olympic bronze on the 4×4 in ’12 and World silver in ’15. At the World Indoor, he won individual bronzes in ’16 & ’18.
Died: Jud Logan, 62
On January 03; of COVID. A 4-time Olympian in the hammer, he U.S. Ranked 12 times from ’84 to ’00, winning 5 USATF titles and setting 10 ARs. He went on to a very successful coaching career at Ashland, guiding his team to three consecutive national Div. II titles.
Died: Ludwig Müller, 90
On January 26, in Kassel, Germany. The No. 10 World-Ranked steepler of ’60, he placed 6th in the Olympic Games that year.
Died: John Rambo, 78
On January 08, in Paramount, California; of a heart attack. The ’64 NCAA high jump champ for Long Beach State, he won the bronze at the Olympics that year. He was AAU Indoor champion in ’67 & ’69. World Ranked once, No. 3 in ’65.
Died: Olavi Rinteenpää
On January 10, in Helsinki, Finland. He was the No. 1 Ranked steeplechaser of ’53, the year he set a WR of 8:44.4. The Finn had finished 4th in the ’52 Olympics and was 11th in his heat 4 years later. Overall, had 4 World Rankings.
Died: Viktor Saneyev, 76
On January 03, in Sydney, Australia. A true giant of the sport, the Georgian triple jumper won three Olympic golds for the Soviet Union (’68, ’72, ’76) and silver in ’80. The event’s first 57-footer, he set 3 World Records and World Ranked 13 times, with No. 1s for 9 years straight (1968–76). Among jumpers, only Carl Lewis & Sergey Bubka have scored more Rankings points. He was chosen as our Men’s Athlete Of The Decade (all events) for the ’70s and then 20 years later was tabbed as our top triple jumper of the century.
Died: John Velzian, 93
On January 20, in Nairobi, Kenya. Considered the “father of Kenyan Athletics,” having started to coach there in ’58, the Briton was the nation’s first national coach and was director of the IAAF’s Nairobi development center.
Died: Elżbieta Żebrowska, 76
On December 23, in Warsaw. The Polish hurdler finished 7th in the ’68 Olympics. She World Ranked thrice, with a No. 2 in ’66. ◻︎