Harry Jerome was the most decorated sprinter between the Percy Williams (1920’s) and Ben Johnson (1980’s) era. One of the many highlights was his bronze medal in the 100 meters at the 1964 Olympics. I’ll get to his WR later.
Rumour has it that Canadian Marathoner Jerome Drayton, who won the Boston Marathon in 1977, changed his name from Peter Buniak in honour of Harry Jerome and Paul Drayton. Yes, the irony of a distance runner idolizing sprinters!
Behind every successful athlete lies a successful coach. The corollary is “Behind every successful man lies a successful woman” but we can save that for another post.
So who was his coach?
Would you believe Bill Bowerman?
Who the heck is Bill Bowerman?
When you think of Bill Bowerman, you immediately think of NIKE, the University of Oregon, and Steve Prefontaine. Two major Hollywood movies about Steve Prefontaine helped raised his stature.
But before Bill Bowerman (and NIKE for that matter) became a household name, he was the head coach at the University of Oregon from 1948-1972. He won four NCAA team championships (1962, ‘64, ‘65, ‘70), and 24 NCAA individual titles including coaching 33 Olympians.
Along with the shoes and coaching distance athletes, including NIKE co-founder Phil Knight, Coach Bowerman was well versed in the sprints and throws. Discus thrower Mac Wilkins and Canadian Sprinter Harry Jerome were among his many world record holders and Olympians.
In the video below, Dr. Doug Clement discusses his collegiate years at the U of Oregon, and the influence Bill Bowerman had on his life outside of Track.
Dr. Clement also mentions Bowerman was an all around coach and not just distance events.
Some remember Bill Bowerman as the pioneer for the jogging boom in America during the mid 1960’s, thanks to New Zealand’s Arthur Lydiard.
Harry Jerome under Bill Bowerman
Harry Jerome attended University of Oregon on a track scholarship from 1960 to 1964. Under his tenure, Harry set or equalled 6 world records, 7 in total.
- 100 meters – 10.1 seconds (EWR – set by Willie William in 1956)
- 100 meters – 10.0 seconds (EWR on July 15, 1960 – set by Armin Hary one month earlier on June 21)
- 100 yards – 9.3 seconds in 1961
- 100 yards – 9.2 seconds in 1962
- 4 x 110 yard Relay – University of Oregon – EWR
- Indoor 60 yards – WR
- 100 yards – 9.1 seconds in 1966
NOTE: the unofficial wiki page on wikipedia.org states Jerome held the 100 meter WR in 10.2 seconds. This cannot be correct, as 10.2 was set by Jesse Owens in 1936 and 10.1 by Willie William in 1956.
I am constantly reminded of Harry Jerome and Percy Williams when I workout at Brockton Oval, and pass by the Harry Jerome statue in Stanley Park seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. In fact, during the fund raising gala for this 9 foot bronze statue, Bill Bowerman came to Vancouver and gave a keynote address.
It is no secret that special bond between Jerome and Bill Bowerman went beyond the coach and athlete relationship.
Harry Jerome died in 1982 at the age of 42, and Bill Bowerman died in 1999 at the age of 88.