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It was an event fit for those who appreciate and celebrate the champions and pioneers of the sports world, in particular, the United States of America Olympic track and field athletes and coaches.
The USA Track & Field (USATF) Association celebrated Georgia's track and field outstanding Olympic inductees during the 22nd annual Hall of Fame Awards Dinner & Gala at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta Hotel Saturday night in downtown Atlanta. Nearly 300 people were in attendance.
"It's a wonderful honor. At my age, I figured the next time my career would be talked about would be at my funeral. It's been 50 years since I ran my last race. It's good to see the young man I groomed, Antonio McKay, Sr., being honored as well," Olympic medalist and former Georgia Tech University coach Douglas "Buddy" Fowlkes said.
Fowlkes was the head track and field coach at Georgia Tech for nearly three decades from 1965 to 1992. His list of accomplishments include three Olympic medalist, two World Record holders, 10 NCAA National champions, 50 All Americans, 77 Atlantic Coast Conference champions and 126 All-ACC selections.
Fowlkes' trained Antonio McKay, Sr. at Georgia Tech. McKay earned a gold medal in 1988 as a runner in the 4x400m relay team.
"The greatest thing in life is history. We can't forgot about the athletes of the past," McKay said.
Fowlkes is one of six inductees who have made unique contributions to the state of Georgia through the sport of track and field. Coaches James "Jimmy" Carnes (deceased) and Paul Koshewa and athletes Edith McGuire-Duvall, Edward ‘Ed" Hamm (deceased) and Antonio McKay, Sr. will now be included among the 14 athletes in the USATF-Georgia Hall of Fame. Only three of the 2012 recipients were present to accept their awards.
Edward "Ed" Hamm won the gold medal in the long jump at the 1928 Summer Olympics. There he set a world record in the long jump, becoming the first Arkansan to win a gold medal. The Atlanta Journal called him "the South's first world champion in any sport."
Olympic Gold Medalist Edith McGuire specialized in the 200M/22Y, in which she won four of her six national titles in 1964. She ended her career in 1965 and became a teacher.
At age 89, Coach Paul Koshewa is one of the most distinguished coaches ever to coach in Georgia. His track and cross country teams at Westminster High School in Atlanta won 10 state championships. Koshewa's accomplishments as a coach have earned him a place in five different Halls of Fame.
"I feel honored and like I contributed something," Koshewa said.
Jimmy Carnes helped to form the Athletics Congress/USA. He was athlete, coach, and administrator on college and international levels. He was the head of the coach of the U.S. Olympic track and field team and is a member of the U.S. Track & Field Hall of Fame.
There were a host of U.S. Olympians present during the ceremony including the 1968 track and field Olympic team. Tommy Smith and John Carlos ran and placed in the 200 meter dash. Their photo became famous worldwide as the "Black power fist photo," making a bold equal rights statement during the singing of the national anthem.
"Modern day track and field, the legacy is dissipating. It's important to be seen and heard so young people can hear from us. We need to let them know this is still a big part of our lives. I'm glad these recipients are getting the honor they deserve," Carlos said.
"It's not just about athletics, it's about our youth. We have to continue to support the sport if we want to keep it going," Smith said.
2012 London Olympic Bronze Medalist Reece Hoffa was also present among the Olympians. He earned the medal for the shot put event.
The USATF-Georgia Association Hall of fame was established in 2011 to recognize the outstanding achievement of individuals in the sports world, born in the state of Georgia or while living within the geographic boundaries of the Georgia Association.
The Board of Selectors for the Hall of Fame award includes 1992 Olympic Gold Medalist Kevin Young who serves as the Athlete Advisory Chair. Young serves as a mentor to Alabama State University student athletes who are from the Atlanta area but are now ASU student athletes. He was on campus for the first day of the fall semester last week.
Click the link below to read more about his campus visit at ASU.