Jackie Joyner-Kersee and 11 other Olympians at Centre this June
Since January, the Centre College athletic department has been busy planning a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for young athletes. Now, with only days remaining, the coaches are finalizing the plans for the event, one that will bring former Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee and 11 other Olympians—six of whom are likely be part of the 2012 Olympic team representing the United States—to campus for a track & field sports camp.
“This is an amazing opportunity for not only our campus but our community and our state as well,” says Lisa Owens, Centre’s head cross country and track & field coach. “We’re bringing in an amazing lineup of some of the best Olympic track & field athletes in the world who will work with our young people and share their expertise in this sport that we love.”
And, Owens adds, the camp is especially exciting because there has never been another high school track camp of this magnitude conducted in the country.
Joyner-Kersee and fellow Olympian Sharrieffa Barksdale will oversee the camp, while Owens will be in charge of promotion and camp set-up.
Currently holding the world record in the heptathlon and the American record in the long jump, Joyner-Kersee won the silver medal in the heptathlon at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Calif. In the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, she took gold in the heptathlon and the long jump. She later took gold in the heptathlon and bronze in the long jump in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. In late 1999, Sports Illustrated for Womenvoted Joyner-Kersee the greatest female athlete of the 20th century.
“Jackie Joyner-Kersee was my ‘track idol’ when I was in high school and college,” Owens says, “and to have her and her track knowledge on our campus for 3.5 days is still very surreal to me. She knows what it’s like to work hard and be successful, and she’ll share some of this knowledge and wisdom with our young people who attend this camp.”
Another outstanding Olympic athlete whom Owens is thrilled to have on campus is Tyson Gay, the fastest man to ever represent the United States and the second fastest man in the world.
A Lexington, Ky. native, Gay was named the USOC Sportsman of the Year, the IAAF Male Athlete of the Year and the Track & Field Man of the Year in 2007 following wins in the 100 meters and the 200 meters at the U.S. Championships and the World Championships. He was also a member of the 4×100 relay World Championship team in 2007. Gay is the American record-holder in the 100 meters and is the second fastest 100-meter runner in world history.
“To have him on our campus and in our small town sharing his knowledge and experiences is a huge honor,” Owens says.
The camp is open to boys and girls between the ages of 12-19. More than 100 students have already signed up, and the camp is accepting registrations through May 31. The camp is open to campers who would like to commute or stay overnight in Centre residence halls; breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided to overnight campers, and commuter campers will eat lunch on campus.
In addition, coaches and parents who would like to view the sessions are also welcome to attend.
Those participating can expect 3.5 days of “individualized and personal attention and instruction by some of the best athletes in our sport of track & field,” Owens says. Besides the instruction, each camper will receive a camp shirt, shoe bag and personalized, autographed photo with all of the Olympians.
And as the camp’s starting date draws near, the Centre community’s excitement continues to grow. “There’s never been a track & field camp of this magnitude in the United States,” Owens says. “There’s never been a camp with this many Olympians at one time. I think it’s the premier track and field camp in the country.”