Oliver Jackson – An Inspiration

When I saw the AP Release announcing Coach Oliver Jackson’s death it brought back a flood of memories. I never knew Oliver Jackson personally, but for several years when I was in high and college he was my coach. How was that? He wrote a chapter on the Sprints in a book called Championship Track And Field – By 12 Great Coaches. It was published in 1961. That was my first exposure to any kind of systematic approach to sprint training and speed development. For me that chapter was my bible. The fundamentals he preached then are still sound fundamentals today. Here is short excerpt from two introductory paragraphs:

A boy must be physically strong in order to be a good sprinter. Sprinting is a strength exercise. More muscle strength is required for sprinting than for any longer races.

A sprinter must be able to relax. Most great sprinters look as if they are loafing because they run so easily. Unless the ability to relax is acquired, a boy can never become a great sprinter –no matter how much natural speed he has.

Truer words have never been spoken. Thanks coach Jackson for inspiring me and getting me pointed in the right direction.

Renowned track coach dies

The Associated Press

Oliver Jackson, the former Abilene Christian track and field coach whose athletes won four Olympic gold medals and set 15 world records, died Wednesday. He was 87.Jackson died of natural causes at his Abilene home, said Lance Fleming, ACU sports information director.

During his tenure at ACU (1948-63) Jackson's teams won NAIA titles in 1952, 1954 and 1955. In 1964, he coached the national team during its pre-Olympic tour.

At ACU, Jackson coached three U.S. Olympic team members: Bobby Morrow, quarter-miler Earl Young and pole vaulter Billy Pemelton.

Morrow, a sprinter, won gold medals at the 1956 Olympics in the 100 and 200 meters and 400 relay. Young won a gold medal in the 1960 Olympics in Rome in the 1,600 relay, and Pemelton finish eighth in the pole vault in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. A 1959 Sports Illustrated article called Jackson "probably the best relay coach in the United States." Jackson, a former president of the U.S. Track and Field Coaches Association, was inducted into seven halls of fame, including the U.S. Track and Field Coaches Association.


At 12/28/07, 5:26 PM, Anonymous Steffi said...

"Unless the ability to relax is acquired, a boy can never become a great sprinter –no matter how much natural speed he has."
That is so true.


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