If you are a reader of SpeedEndurance, you don’t need a reminder of who Lee Evans is.
On the Track side, he is a 2-time Gold medalist from the 1968 Mexico City Olympics in the 400 meters and 4×400 meter relay. He was the first man to break the 44 second barrier, along with Larry James running 43.97 in the same race. In fact, today, 43 years later, only 9 men have broken 44 seconds.
When you consider he ran 43.86 in altitude, what could he have run if he had a faster track surface, lighter spikes, compression spikes, better aerodynamic clothing, compression clothing, and speakers installed in starting blocks?
Add to the fact all the turmoil surrounding the 1968 Olympics where he didn’t even sleep the night before…
I think he could have broken 43 seconds…
Lee Evans in the USA-USSR meet
Photo credits: Jeff Kroot
Lee Evans, the Other side
A lot of people don’t realize he left for Africa in 1975 for about 20 years and produced 3 Olympic medal winners for Nigeria. He did return to the USA with stints at University of Washington and University of South Alabama, but he eventually retuned to Liberia and started raising money for a school.
Liberia is the home country of his wife, Princess where she grew up in a refugee camp in the Republic of Guinea. Liberia is also the place where she met Lee in 2008 while he was working for the United Nations.
You can read my interview with him where he was willing to part with his 2 Gold medals to benefit the school.
But at the end, sustainability is what it’s all about, and that means farming.
Since Liberia has about 75% unemployment, Lee’s objective was to build a farm to finance the building of the new school. Eventually, he purchased 13 acres outside of the Liberian capital of Monrovia to build a school.
Lee Evans, the Tragedy
Unfortunately, on his recent visit to the USA, with a stopover in Kentucky to visit Tom Lough (a modern Pentathlete) to learn more about commercial farming, he still has family in the Bay Area. Upon visiting his sister Rosemary, he became ill and was immediately hospitalized diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Since he is 64, he is not eligible for Medicare which would cover the cost. Since he doesn’t live in the USA permanently, he doesn’t have health insurance.
He has already suffered discrimination because of his lack of health insurance at the hospital.
Last Friday, Rosemary told Dave Zirin,
“I heard his doctor in the hall and I heard him say he wished [Lee] had been transferred somewhere else because he didn’t have insurance…. Lee is in intense pain. Not even morphine is helping. He hasn’t eaten in several days, yet there was no IV in his arm when I first went into his room. He’s lying in his filth and nothing is happening. If family members aren’t vigilant… If we aren’t vigilant, I don’t know what would happen.”
Help Support Lee Evans
I spoke to Lee Evans’ son Aleator, and below are donation buttons to his personal PayPal account. Please make a donation to help cover his medical expenses. Any amount is appreciated.
Alternatively, you can use this link to spread the word. Please copy and paste this link:
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lee’s family, and the entire team at SpeedEndurance wishes him a full recovery.
I’m really sorry to hear about Lee, Jimson.
Thank you for letting us know.
I am happy to give a donation.
I dont think that he could break 43 seconds…
He ran in big altitude, it is big advantage.
He never ran in 44 low without altitude.
So being generous, Evans perhaps could run today in 43 low(it would be incredible, only M. Johnson ran in 43.18(with a lot of sub44 in his life) and well Reynold in 43.29 although with doubts about if he was in doping…)
But hardly Evans could run sub43 although he has “a faster track surface, lighter spikes, compression spikes, better aerodynamic clothing, compression clothing, and speakers installed in starting blocks” in these days.
Jimson Lee says
@FRANK, the big question is if Larry James didn’t have Lane 1, and ran side by side, what would they run?
The main reason why Butch Reynolds ran the 43.29WR was he had a scorching Innocent Egbunike in the lane in front of him, who went out in 20.9
Yes Jimson i understand the question but is really hard to think that Evans could make sub43 in these moments, i dont think it, 43 low i see it more possible ;)
Jimson Lee says
okay Frank, here’s a ** SPOILER ALERT**…
I am involved in a film/documentary being made on Speed City that will focus on what these athletes could have run, compared to athletes of today. Maybe I am being too generous with a 42.99 prediction? No one knows for sure.. maybe Lee Evans?
I will ask Lee Evans when he recovers from surgery on what he think he could have run if he had the same advantages of today. He did say before the relay, he wanted to run 43.0, with splits of 21 + 22. In Lee’s book, he looks exhausted at the end of the 4x400m relay finals and he did tie up a bit at the end of the race.