Did you know that Greenburgh ties to Olympic Champions - two gold medal winners in former games were from our town!
Louis Jones, cousin of Greenburgh Town Councilman Ken Jones, was a Greenburgh resident who was very involved in the community. Lou, who passed away in 2006, was a former athlete and winner of the the gold medal in the 4x400 m relay at the 1956 Summer Olympics Lou Jones won the 400 m at the 1955 Pan-American Games, where he set a new world record of 45.4. He was also a member of the gold medal winning American 4x400 m relay team.
Just four months before the Melbourne Olympics, Jones broke his own 400 m world record, clocking 45.2 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in the US Olympic Trials, thus becoming a main favorite at this event in Melbourne. But in the Olympic 400 m final, Jones was off form, and managed to finish only in a disappointing fifth place, 1.50 seconds behind teammate Charles Jenkins. A few days later, Jones partly compensated for his disappointment, running the second leg in the gold medal winning American 4x400 m relay team. Jones graduated from Manhattan College in 1954.
I worked with Lou during my tenure as a Westchester County Legislator. He was modest, hard working, dedicated to public service and made a positive contribution to the Greenburgh community. I remember Lou talking to me about how different gold medal winners are treated today. In the coming days gold medal winners will benefit financially from their wins – they will be asked to endorse products that will lead to $$$. During the 1950s that did not happen.
Another champion with ties to Greenburgh: Larry James.
Larry James was born on November 6, 1947, and took up track in seventh grade. A double medalist at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, James also set world records and won NCAA titles during his track career. James won the silver medal in the 400 m with his time of 43.97 seconds at the 1968 Summer Olympics, bettering the existing world record but placing him second behind teammate (and fellow Hall of Famer) Lee Evans (43.86). James added a gold medal at the Mexico City Games by running the third leg on the U.S. 4x400 m relay team, which set a world record of 2:56.16 seconds, which was eventually tied in 1988 but was not beaten until 1992.
James set the 400 m world record of 44.1 seconds in placing second to Evans at the 1968 Olympic Trials at Echo Summit, California, when Evans' winning time of 44.0 was disallowed by the IAAF because he wore illegal brush spike shoes. James was a double gold medalist at the 1970 World University Games, winning the 400 m hurdles and running the anchor leg on Team USA's 4x400 m relay team (3:03.33).
As a collegian at Villanova University under Hall of Fame coach Jumbo Elliott, James won the NCAA Men's Outdoor Track and Field Championship 440 yd (400 m)
title in 1970 and NCAA Men's Indoor Track and Field Championship crowns at that distance in 1968, 1969 and 1970. At the 1968 Penn Relays, his anchor leg of 43.9 was the fastest ever run in the history of the relay carnival and sparked Villanova's scintillating comeback victory over Rice University. Larry died on his 61st birthday in 2008. His mother, Martha James, works at the Theodore Young Community Center – helping seniors.
One of the reasons why at Frank’s nursery is because I believe that our community needs more fields for our youth. There is no reason why Greenburgh can’t produce more gold medal winners. If we provide our youth with the resources, training and facilities.
Do you know any other Greenburgh resident (past or present) who was involved in the Olympics? Do you know any Olympic champs with ties to our community? Or…anyone who is working with Olympic teams? During the Olympic games I’d like to highlight their involvement. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.