Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Leroy Burrell

Leroy Russel Burrell (born February 21, 1967) is a former American athlete who twice set the world record for the 100 meters sprint, setting a time of 9.90 seconds in June 1991. This was then broken by Carl Lewis within a month. Burrell set the record for a second time when he ran 9.85 s in 1994, a record that stood until the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, when Donovan Bailey ran 9.84 s.

Burrell grew up in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania and attended Penn Wood High School where he single handedly won the state championship by winning the 100m, 200m, Long Jump, and Triple Jump. Suffering from poor eyesight accentuated by a childhood eye injury, he was poor at other sports but excelled on the track from an early age. He studied at the University of Houston, where he was a successful participant in its track program.

Burrell was plagued by injuries and bad luck throughout his career, particularly around major championships. He won gold in the 100 m ahead of Carl Lewis at 1990 Goodwill Games in Seattle. He won the silver in the 100 m behind Lewis at the 1991 World Championships, and at the 1992 Summer Olympics was false-started in the 100 m final and, when the race finally restarted, his reaction off the line was slow and finished fifth. He did though manage to win a relay gold as part of the US team at Barcelona.

Since his retirement in 1998, Burrell has replaced his old college mentor, Tom Tellez, as coach of the University of Houston's track team. Burrell has led UH to 14 men’s Conference USA titles (nine indoor, five outdoor) and nine women’s titles (four indoor, five outdoor).

He married Michelle Finn, also a sprinter, in 1994, and they have three sons Cameron, Joshua and Jaden. His younger sister Dawn also competed in track and field on the highest level. According to an essay from PETA, Leroy Burrell has been a vegetarian.

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