Stephanie Hightower

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Stephanie Hightower
Stephanie Hightower
Medal record
Women’s Athletics
Representing  United States
Pan American Games
Silver medal – second place 1987 Indianapolis 100 m hurdles
Liberty Bell Classic
Gold medal – first place 1980 Philadelphia 100 m hurdles

Stephanie Hightower (born July 19, 1958) is an American former hurdler and former president of USA Track & Field (USATF). She is a four-time U.S. Champion at 100 meter hurdles and a five-time U.S. Indoor Champion at 60 meter hurdles. She also won the 1980 U.S. Olympic Trials, but was prevented from competing in the Moscow Olympics due to the boycott. She won a silver medal at the 1987 Pan American Games.

Hightower became president of USA Track & Field in December 2008.[1] She resigned as chair of the USATF board in April 2015 and was elected to the IAAF Council in August 2015[2][3] She resigned as president of USATF in December 2016.[4]


Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Hightower was a collegiate track star at The Ohio State University. From 1977 to 1980, she did not lose a race in the 60-meter dash, 60-meter hurdles or the 100-meter hurdles, and earned Big Ten Conference, NCAA and National championship titles. She was unable to participate in the 1980 Summer Olympics due to the US boycott of the games. She did however receive one of 461 Congressional Gold Medals created especially for the spurned athletes.[5] Hightower missed the 1984 Summer Olympics, finishing fourth in what looked like a four-way tie at the Olympic Trials. Kim Turner won the race in 13.12 seconds, with Benita Fitzgerald-Brown in second, Pam Page in third and Hightower in fourth, all running 13.13 seconds,[6][7] in what was possibly the closest elite race in history.[6][8][9] The photo of the finish was later used for instruction in the use of photo finish devices.


Twenty eight years later, as President of USATF, Hightower was part of the administrative committee formed to settle another controversial close finish, when Jeneba Tarmoh and Allyson Felix tied for the final qualifying spot in the 2012 Olympic Trials.

After retiring from competition, Hightower has held various positions with the USATF, including serving as women's team manager at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. She is currently the President and CEO of the Columbus Urban League. In addition, she has served in the Columbus Mayor's cabinet for Sports Development. In 2011, Hightower was discussed as a possibility for the USATF's CEO position until the board decided on Max Siegel.[10]

Hightower is the niece of American Football Hall of Famer Paul Warfield.[7]

National titles[edit]

International competitions[edit]

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  United States
1980 Liberty Bell Classic Philadelphia, United States 1st 100 m hurdles 13.08
1981 World Cup Rome, Italy 4th 100 m hurdles 13.09
1985 World Indoor Games Paris, France 4th 60 m hurdles 8.12
1987 World Indoor Championships Indianapolis, United States 8th 60 m hurdles 8.26
Pan American Games Indianapolis, United States 2nd 100 m hurdles 12.82
World Championships Rome, Italy 11th (sf) 100 m hurdles 13.12
(sf) Indicates overall position in qualifying round


  1. ^ "Hightower elected USA Track & Field President". Retrieved 2009-01-29.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Caroccioli, Tom; Caroccioli, Jerry. Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. Highland Park, IL: New Chapter Press. pp. 243–253. ISBN 978-0942257403.
  6. ^ a b Olympic Trials results P.206-207
  7. ^ a b "Always Aiming High". Big Ten Conference. Feb 24–25, 2007. Retrieved 2009-01-29.
  8. ^ Hersh, Philip (2012-06-25). "U.S. track officials badly mishandle tiebreaker situation". Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ "USATF draws scrutiny with no plan to settle Olympic trial tie". Fox News. 2012-06-27.
  10. ^ Hersh, Philip (2011-05-23). "Very possible that Hightower could move from board chair to CEO of U.S. track". Retrieved 24 May 2011.

External links[edit]