Kevin Young (hurdler)

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Kevin Young
Kevin Young (athlete).JPG
Young in 2012
Personal information
Born (1966-09-16) 16 September 1966 (age 48)
Los Angeles, California
Height 194 cm (6 ft 4 in)[1]
Weight 82 kg (181 lb)
Sport
Country United States
Sport Athletics
Event(s) Men's 400 metres Hurdles
Updated on 9 February 2014.

Kevin C. Young (born in September 16, 1966 Watts, California) is a former American athlete. He was the winner of the 400 meter hurdles at the 1992 Summer Olympics. In the final of this event he set a world record and Olympic record of 46.78 seconds, which remains unbeaten.

He became the 400 m hurdles world champion the following year, winning at the 1993 World Championships in Athletics with a time of 47.18 seconds. He had an unusual hurdling technique of switching between 12 and 13 strides between the hurdles, departing from the 13-stride technique popularized by Edwin Moses.[2]

Young's performances declined after 1993. He was inducted into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame in 2006.

Career[edit]

Early life[edit]

At Jordan High School (Los Angeles, California), the same high school that Florence Griffith-Joyner had attended years earlier, Young was first successful as a 110 meter hurdler, finishing in a tight 3rd place at the 1984 CIF California State Meet.[3] As a UCLA "walk-on", Young was 5th place at the 1985 Pac-10 championships running the 400m hurdles in 51.09 seconds. This all changed his sophomore year. Limiting the amount of time and effort in other events (110 hurdles, triple jump, and long jump) he applied more detail towards the 400 meter hurdles and 4x400 meter relay. The bruin won the 1986 PAC-10 400m hurdles title on the advice of Andre Phillips sharing his knowledge of running this distance at the Los Angeles Coliseum under windy conditions.There he set a then PAC-10 record of 49.02 seconds. While in Indiana for that year's 1986 NCAA Championships, Young was a surprised second place finisher behind the 1984 Olympic silver medalists, Danny Harris of Iowa State. The long gangly runner did something incredible while running between the fourth and fifth hurdles. He takes eleven(11)strides between the barriers. A feat only repeated by him six years later during the first round of 1992 Barcelona Olympic 400 meter hurdles. At the 1987 NCAA championships at LSU, he captured a pair of NCAA titles in 400m hurdles and 4x400 meter relay. He and his Bruin 4x400m relay teammates of Anthony Washington, Henry Thomas, and Danny Everett set a then NCAA and collegiate record of 3:00.55. In 1988 during his senior year at UCLA, Young defends his third PAC-10 400m hurdles title and wins his second NCAA 400m hurdles title, running 47.85 seconds. With the addition of California prep phenom 400m specialist Steven Lewis, the Bruin's 4x400m relay team becomes the first ever collegiate team to run under 3 minutes.(2:59.91)Relay splits....(Steve Lewis 45.1, Kevin Young 44.3, Danny Everett, 45.4, Henry Thomas 45.1), 2:59.91CR. These records stood for 17 years, with the 400m hurdles being broken by Kerron Clement (47.56) and relay by LSU (2:59.59). Kevin Young finished his senior year as team captain and the most valuable male collegiate athlete in the United States, winning the Jumbo Elliott Award.[4] Young graduated from UCLA setting junior and senior class records in the 400m hurdles (48.15 and 47.72 respectively).

Young made his debut at the international scene at the 1986 Goodwill Games in Moscow, USSR and later at the 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolis placing second. At the 1988 Summer Olympics, Young finished fourth just behind Edwin Moses (whose record Young would replace four years later) in his final race. At the 1991 World Championships, Young was again fourth.

Olympic gold and world record[edit]

In 1992, Young won his first USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships title and was unbeaten prior to the Barcelona Olympics, which he won with a new world record of 46.78, despite failing to clear the last hurdle cleanly. The record still stands, and he is also the only person to have run 400 m hurdles in less than 47 seconds. This was achieved using 12 strides between hurdles (nearly 9 feet per stride) switching to 13 later in the race, a technique only Young has ever perfected.

Young's world-record run is noteworthy in one other respect, in that it could have been even faster. Being so far ahead of the field, he slowed down and raised his arm in celebration as he crossed the finish line. Despite this, he set a world record which still stands. Young became the first ever ESPY award winner in track presented by ESPN.

It is well noted that Young, throughout the 1992 season prior to Barcelona, placed small pieces of paper with the numbers 46.89 in each running spike. He had mentally convinced himself that running under 47 seconds was possible.[5]

In 1993, Young won his second US National Championships title and had 25 consecutive wins until he was beaten by Samuel Matete from Zambia just two weeks before the 1993 World Championships. In the World Championships final, however, Young again made a decisive move between hurdles 7 and 8. He held this lead until the finish, beating Matete by 0.42 seconds.

Decline[edit]

After 1993, Young's performances on the track declined for a number of reasons. Young left from his training base in California and departed from his former coach John Smith. He raced at just two meetings in 1994: he took second at the New York Games with a season's best of 49.70 seconds but failed to make the 400 m hurdles final at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. He finished the season after the championships. There he focussed on working within the Atlanta community doing appearances at many local Atlanta Boys and Girls Clubs, appearing at toy drives for homeless shelter families. Still nursing a nagging knee injury, Young looked forward to a meaningful 1995 season practicing at Life College. Unable to manage with a meniscus tear on his lead leg, the injury compromised his season requiring surgery two days after his birthday. With help from coach Bobby Kersee, Young was eager to get ready for the Atlanta trials, only to advance as far as the semis, placing fifth in his heat. Years after the 1996 trials Young embraced many opportunities to run overseas throughout Europe and in Israel. While racing in Greece in 1998, Young become a member of the Panhellinos Gymnastics Club. Mr. Minos Kiriakou, a local media tycoon welcomed their new club athlete. At the 1998 European "Group B" Champions Cup, Young won the 400m hurdles event setting then a club record. Never "officially" retiring, Young simply marveled in the exploits of the newer talented group of hurdlers respecting their feats and his own achievements. He was inducted into the United States Track & Field Hall of Fame in 2006.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Young is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.[7]

References[edit]

Awards
Preceded by
Ukraine Sergey Bubka
United Press International
Athlete of the Year

1992
Succeeded by
Spain Miguel Indurain
Preceded by
Ukraine Sergey Bubka
Men's Track & Field Athlete of the Year
1992
Succeeded by
Algeria Noureddine Morceli
Preceded by
None
Men's Track & Field ESPY Award
1993
Succeeded by
United States Michael Johnson
Sporting positions
Preceded by
United States Andre Phillips
Men's 400 m Hurdles Best Year Performance
1989
Succeeded by
United States Danny Harris
Preceded by
Zambia Samuel Matete
Men's 400 m Hurdles Best Year Performance
1992 — 1993
Succeeded by
United States Derrick Adkins