Willie Banks

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Willie Banks
Banks in 1988
Personal information
Full nameWilliam Augustus Banks III
BornMarch 11, 1956 (1956-03-11) (age 67)
Coached byRandy Huntington
Medal record
Men's athletics
Representing the  United States
World Championships
Silver medal – second place 1983 Helsinki Triple jump
Banks in 1984

William Augustus Banks III (born March 11, 1956) is an American athlete. Born at Travis Air Force Base, California, he grew up in San Diego County and went to Oceanside High School.[citation needed] Banks is an Eagle Scout.[1]

Track and Field[edit]

Banks was a track & field athlete competing in the triple jump. On June 16, 1985 he set a world record of 17.97 m (58 feet 11.5 inches) at the national championships in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. He finished second in the NCAA Championships in 1977 and 1978. He earned his B.A. and Juris Doctor (J.D.) from UCLA. He broke the American triple jump record in 1981. He qualified for the 1980 U.S. Olympic team but did not compete due to the U.S. Olympic Committee's boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, Russia. He was one of 461 athletes to receive a Congressional Gold Medal instead.[2] Banks was a member of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic teams and participated with the 1983 and 1987 IAAF World Championships in Athletics World Championship teams. He was awarded the Track & Field News and United States Olympic Committee Athlete of the Year in 1985 and won the Jesse Owens Award as the Outstanding Athlete in Track and Field.[3]

He served USA Track & Field as chair of the Athletes Advisory Committee in addition to serving as an organization vice president.

Banks will always be remembered as one of the most flamboyant athletes to compete in track and field. He is the originator of the now common hand clapping that takes place during many track and field events,[4] and which he first did at DN-galan in 1981.[5]

Banks exuberant personality was also present in his jumping. He has been reported as laughing during some of his jumps. When he set the world record of 17.97 m at the 1985 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, his attention seemed more intent on completing his jump in order to cheer for teammate Louise Romo who was completing her 800 metres on the track adjacent to the runway at the same time.[6][7] He held that record for over ten years until Jonathan Edwards broke it for the first time in 1995 with 17.98m. He also jumped 18.20m at Indianapolis in 1988, but this was assisted by an over the limit wind reading of 5.2 m/s. Held Masters Triple Jump (M45 & M60) and Masters High Jump (M55 & M60) Records.

Hall of Fame[edit]

Banks was inducted into the USA National Track & Field Hall of Fame in 1999 and was still competing at an advanced age. In 2006, he cleared an impressive 14.00 m to head the 2006 World Masters rankings in the 50–54 age group, just 7 cm behind that age-group's world record. He won the 2007 World Masters Athletics Championships in that same age group. On September 22, 2012, Banks became the oldest American to clear 6 feet in the high jump at the age of 56 using just a 3-step approach and the classic "roll" technique.[8] For that performance, Banks was named the USATF Athlete of the Week.[9]

US Olympians Association[edit]

Banks was President of the US Olympians Association from 2005 to 2008.[10] In 2008 he joined the newly reconstituted USATF Board of Directors.[11] Banks was on a panel on an ESPN "Outside the Lines" episode regarding athlete involvement in social issues, dated May 18, 2008.

ANOC 2019 World Beach Games[edit]

Banks serves as the President & Chief Executive Officer of the Local Organizing Committee of ANOC 2019 World Beach Games San Diego 2019, the inaugural World Beach Games.[12][13]


Banks was ranked among the best in the US and the world over the incredible spread of 18 seasons from 1975 to 1992, including twice world number 1 in 1981 and 1985, according to the votes of the experts of Track and Field News.[14][15]

triple jump
Year World rank US rank
1975 - 8th
1976 - 4th
1977 5th 2nd
1978 - 3rd
1979 5th 2nd
1980 2nd 1st
1981 1st 1st
1982 5th 1st
1983 2nd 1st
1984 6th 3rd
1985 1st 1st
1986 8th 3rd
1987 7th 2nd
1988 7th 2nd
1989 - 8th
1990 - -
1991 - 3rd
1992 - 9th

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Fact Sheet Eagle Scouts". Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  2. ^ Caroccioli, Tom; Caroccioli, Jerry (2008). Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. Highland Park, IL: New Chapter Press. pp. 243–253. ISBN 978-0942257403.
  3. ^ "USA Track & Field - Annual Awards - Jesse Owens Award". Archived from the original on December 21, 2019.
  4. ^ Newton, Andrew (November 2, 2007). "Willie Banks (17.97 m)". Archived from the original on March 8, 2010. Retrieved October 6, 2010.
  5. ^ Nils Palmgren. "Så föddes handklappningen – historien om Willie Banks och fem lite fulla killar på Stadion" (archived), Dagens Nyheter, 29 September 2019.
  6. ^ Litsky, Frank (June 17, 1985). "Banks Triple Jumps To World Record". The New York Times. p. C2.
  7. ^ Slater, Jim (June 16, 1985). "Willie Banks smashed the world record in the triple..." UPI.
  8. ^ "Willie Banks soars 6 feet at 56; Christa adds two more WRs". Mastertrack.com. September 22, 2012. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  9. ^ "Banks named Athlete of the Week". USA Track & Field. September 26, 2012. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  10. ^ U.S. Olympians Association
  11. ^ USATF Board of Directors
  12. ^ World Beach Games 2019 San Diego
  13. ^ Stone, Ken (October 20, 2016). "Willie Banks Heads Downsized Staging of 2019 World Beach Games". Times of San Diego. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  14. ^ "MEN'S WORLD TRIPLE JUMP RANKINGS BY ATHLETE 1947–2018". Track and Field News.
  15. ^ "MEN'S U.S. TRIPLE JUMP RANKINGS BY ATHLETE 1963–2018". Track and Field News.

External links[edit]

Preceded by Men's Triple Jump World Record Holder
1985-06-16 – 1995-07-18
Succeeded by