Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

April 23, 2012

Three-time Olympian stops by Relays

Jim Spivey, member of 1984, ‘92 and ‘96 Olympic teams, in Goshen Saturday.

GOSHEN — Over the 70-year history of the Goshen Relays there have been many great athletes that have left lasting impressions with their performances on Foreman Field.

Two memorable ones were Bernie Rivers of East Chicago Washington who still holds the Class A 100-meter dash record of 10.5 (converted) from 1963 and Rod Woodson of Fort Wayne Snider who went on to become an all-American in football and track at Purdue University before playing 17 seasons in the NFL.

While he didn’t compete on Saturday, Jim Spivey left his own mark on the Relays.

The three-time U.S. Olympian who works for ASICS America in college sales was on hand Saturday to help promote Mike Willis and his T-Shirt Printing Plus business in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

“I’ve heard of the Relays, but I’m amazed by the number of people,” the native of Schiller Park, Illinois, said. “We had relays when I was in high school but nothing quite this large.

“I’m also impressed with the number of kids that have come up to me that are not here competing but are here to support their teammates. There have probably been 60 kids that have already come up to me that are here but not competing. To me that is pretty impressive.

“My job with ASICS is to work with college and high school coaches to get the right products for their kids. I love it because it keeps me involved in the sport.”

Spivey competed in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. He won the U.S. Trials and placed fifth in the 1,500 meters (3:36.06) at the Games. His time is still the fastest by an American runner in an Olympic final.

After missing the 1988 Games, he finished eighth in the 1,500 in 1992 at Barcelona, Spain, and was a semifinalist in the 5,000 (14:27.72) at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

“It was fun going to Atlanta,” he said. “When I made my first Olympic team at age 24 I thought I would go on running for the rest of my life.”

Spivey was a member of the U.S. World Championship teams in 1983, 1987, 1991, 1993 and 1995. He was a Bronze Medalist in the 1,500 in 1987.

He has a career-best time of 3:49.80 in the mile.

He last ran competitively in 1998.

“I don’t miss the training and being tired when I came home,” he said. “Most people come home from work and still have the energy to do things. It wasn’t like that for me when I came home from work, one of my training sessions.

“I ran for 15 years after college. I made three Olympic teams, the last one at age 36, which made me the oldest athlete on the U.S. team.”

Spivey began his running career at Fenton High School in 1975. In his first cross country race he covered the three-mile course in 19:05. Two months later his time had dropped to 15:41. He went on the win the Illinois state championship as a junior and senior. His time as a senior was 14:00.

In track as a senior, his time of 1:50.2 in the 880-yard run was the No. 1 time by a high school athlete in the country.

He went on the run cross country and track at Indiana University for USA Track and Field Hall of Fame coach Sam Bell. Spivey won 13 Big Ten titles and a 13-time all-American while at IU.

“I had a great role model in coach Bell,” Spivey said.

After he retired from running he started coaching and his first stop was at the University of Chicago.

“I would advise kids that want to get into running to make sure they get quality shoes,” Spivey said. “Another thing would be to listen to their coach. But the most important thing of all is to make sure you run your miles over the summer. My suggestion would be a minimum of 200 miles and maybe up to around 600. When you spread it out over the summer it’s not that many miles per day. Believe me the coach will know the first day or the first couple of days of practice the ones that did their workouts over the summer.”

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