Bob Kennedy (athlete)
Robert Owen Kennedy Jr. (born August 18, 1970 in Bloomington, Indiana) is an American distance runner. He is considered one of the best American distance runners in history. Now retired, In 1996 he was ranked 4th in the world at the 5000 meters. He once held the American record in the 3000 meters (7:30.84), 2 miles (8:11.59) and the 5000 metres (12:58.21).
He was the first ever non-African to run the 5000 metres in less than thirteen minutes, and he is still one of only seven non-Africans to do so. He is regarded as one of the greatest U.S. distance runners in history.
Prep school competition
Kennedy was twice state champion in cross country while at Westerville North High School. Kennedy was the 1987 national junior champion in cross country. He still holds the OHSAA record for 1600 Meters at 4:05:13.
Kennedy opted to compete for the Indiana Hoosiers. He began in 1988 with a win at the NCAA cross country champions, becoming one of only a handful of true freshman ever to win the event. In addition, he won the NCAA 1,500 meter championship in 1990 and the indoor NCAA mile championship in 1991 before winning the cross country championship again, as a senior. A winner of 16 Big Ten track titles.
His senior year he also won the USATF National Cross Country Championships, becoming only the second person in history to win both the NCAA cross country nationals and U.S. national cross country championships in the same year. (Al Lawrence of Houston was the first, performing the feat in 1959 and 1960.) Kennedy's second USATF National Cross Country title came in 2004, the twelve-year gap between titles (1992 & 2004) being the longest in history of the USATF. Kennedy participated in several World Cross Country championships, his highest finish being 12th place in the 1995 race.
The highlight of Kennedy's career came in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. In the 5000 meter finals, Kennedy surged to the front at the beginning of the penultimate lap and forced the pace. He held the lead for almost a lap and was ultimately passed just before the closing lap, eventually placing 6th. He had also made it to the finals of the 1992 Olympic 5000 m race and placed 12th. He also ran the 5000 m in the World Championships in Athletics for the US in 1991 (12th), 1993, 1995 (12th), 1997 (6th), and 1999 (9th).
Kennedy held American records for the 3000 m (7:30.84 min in 1998) and 5,000-meter races (12:58.21 min in 1996), he participated in workouts with Kenyan athletes also coached by McDonald at the group's training bases in the U.S., Australia and England. McDonald rarely gave his athletes goal times for workouts, and they regularly ran sub-4 minute miles in practice
Kennedy suffered a back injury in an auto accident before the 2000 Olympic Trials and missed seven weeks of training so that he was not able to make the Olympic team that year. In 2001, he was hindered by thyroid problems. He returned to win the USA Track & Field (USATF) Championships 5000 meter race against Colorado grad Adam Goucher, who by then was largely seen to be Kennedy's successor. He was able to beat the younger and faster Goucher by alternating the pace between each lap, surging then slowing, forcing Goucher to come to him after each surge and blunting Goucher's finishing kick. In all, Kennedy was four time USATF National Champion in the 5,000 – 1995, 1996, 1997, and 2001.
After running a personal best of 27:37 in the spring of 2004, Kennedy competed in the 2004 US Olympic Trials in the 10,000 meter race, but had to drop out of the race due to aggravation of an Achilles tendon injury he had suffered in the weeks leading up to the Olympic trials. After recovering from the injury he briefly tried his hand at the marathon, dropping out of the New York City marathon that autumn and since then has retired from competitive distance running.
Nike has created two racing spikes in honor of him, the Nike Kennedy XC and Nike Zoom Kennedy. Both are popular and sought-after racing spikes; however the Nike Zoom Kennedy has been discontinued and the Kennedy XC has been renamed the GHAC XC, due to the expiration of Bob Kennedy's endorsement contract with Nike. In May 2006 Kennedy signed a three-year contract with Puma.
Personal Best Times
- 1500 meters 3:38.2
- Mile 3:56.21
- 2000 meters 4:59.9
- 3000 meters 7:30.84 (Former American Record)
- 2 miles 8:11.59 (Former American Record)
- 5000 meters 12:58.21 (Former American Record)
- 10,000 meters 27:37.45