132 E Washington ST.
Suite 800
Indianapolis, IN. 46204

Attn: Steve Miller: Chairman of the Board

Dear Mr. Miller

As an ardent Track & Field fan, for over 40 years, I'm writing this proposal, to hopefully, encourage you, and members of your staff, to strongly consider an honorary award, in the names of Carl Lewis, Dick Fosbury, and Billy Mills. I know, there's been a Jesse Owens Award, since 1981, which represents the outstanding U.S. male and female Track & Field performer of the year. I was also happy to hear, that Jackie Joyner-Kersee now has an award, representing the top U.S. female Track & Field athlete of the year. I've always been a big fan, of both Carl Lewis, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee. I'm from Illinois and I’ve been a fan of Jackie Joyner-Kersee, ever since I watched her win state championships in High School for East St. Louis.

My family and I are really big Track & Field fans, and in light of all the accomplishments Carl Lewis, Dick Fosbury, and Billy Mills, have made in Track & Field, we feel they should have some type of an award, named in their honor also. As of now, Carl Lewis has won more Olympic Track & Field gold medals than any athlete in history. Furthermore, Lewis was voted "Sportsman of the Century" by International Olympic Committee, elected "World Athlete of the Century" by the International Association of Athletics Federations, named "Olympian of the Century" by Sports Illustrated, and his Alma Mater in 2000, (University of Houston) named the Carl Lewis International Complex after him.

The question is, what kind of an award, could be named in the honor of Carl Lewis? Our suggestion would be; (THE CARL LEWIS VERSATILITY AWARD)!  The (Carl Lewis Versatility Award) would go to the top High School, College, or Professional Track & Field athlete, which excels in not only the sprints, but also excels, in both sprinting, and another event, outside of just sprinting.  EXAMPLE: If an athlete excels in both sprinting and the Long Jump, he or she, would be up for the (Carl Lewis Versatility Award) or in the case of an athlete like Gale Devers, whereas she exceled in both sprinting and the 100 meter hurdles, she would have been a great candidate back in 1992 and 1996 for the (Carl Lewis Versatility Award). We also realize since Carl Lewis was still competing in Track & Field, in 1992 and 1996, that a (Carl Lewis Versatility award) for Gale Devers, would not have been practical at the time. But currently, Tiana Bartoletta, would have been a good candidate for a (Carl Lewis Versatility Award) because she excels in both sprinting, and the Long Jump.  Additionally, an award, like a (Carl Lewis Versatility Award) would encourage young Track & Field athletes, to consider, trying to excel in both sprinting, and other events, outside of the sprints.  It’s almost a crying shame that since the 1896 Olympics, there hasn't been many athletes, since Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis and Gale Devers, that exceled in both sprinting, and a field event, or hurdles!

  I met Jesse Owens, in 1960, when he spoke at our High School, Track & Field banquet. Several Track & Field fans are aware that Jesse Owens, broke (3) world records, and tied one, in a span of 45 minutes, at a track meet in Michigan in 1935! He broke the World’s record in the Long Jump, 220 yard dash, 220 yard low hurdles, and tied the World’s record in the 100 yard dash! There’s at least (3) statues of Jesse Owens, that I know of, around the country. Recently, they came out with a new movie about Jesse Owens, called; RACE. So there’s no question, that USATF got it right, by honoring top athletes in the U.S. with a Jesse Owens award! But we also feel, Carl Lewis, Dick Fosbury, and Billy Mills, have made an enormous impact in Track & Field too. And as a result, honoring top U.S athletes with their name attached to it, would not only be great for Track & Field fans, but would allow young athletes (to be)aware of some other top U.S. athletes, that paved the way, before them. I know, there have been several great Track & Field athletes, that have paved the way over the years, but Carl Lewis, Dick Fosbury, and Billy Mills, are the ones that really stick out, in my mind.

There’s nothing more that we would love to see in Track & Field, than to try and encourage the younger generation, to duplicate, what Jesse Owens, and Carl Lewis, have accomplished in the Olympics, by winning (4) gold medals.  We feel a (CARL LEWIS VERSATILITY AWARD) would be a great step in the right direction, for all sprinters, to incorporate their sprinting ability, into other events, like the hurdles, Long Jump, High Jump, etc.

Even though my proposal, is primarily, to encourage USATF to honor Carl Lewis with some type of national award, with his name attached to it, but we also feel, that Dick Fosbury and Billy Mills, should have awards honored in their names. Dick Fosbury used his famous (FOSBURY FLOP) technique, to win gold at the Olympics in 1968!  I think Dick Fosbury’s accomplishments were over shadowed, because of all the publicity regarding Tommy Smith and John Carlos, black glove fist protest at the Olympics in 1968. Dick Fosbury revolutionized his High Jumping technique forever. The (FOSBURY FLOP) is the only high jumping technique used around the world now days.   Maybe an award honored in Dick Fosbury’s name, can be called (THE DICK FOSBURY FIELD EVENT AWARD).

Now when it comes to distance running, who better than Billy Mills name could be attached to an award? When Billy Mills, went to the 1964 Olympics, he was a virtual unknown. Mills preliminary time in the 10,000 meters was almost a full 60 seconds slower, than world record holder, Australian athlete Ron Clarke’s time. As far as we’re concerned, Billy Mills, winning gold in the 10,000 meters, has to be one of the greatest accomplishments, by an American in Olympic history! They even made a movie about him, called; (RUNNING BRAVE) in 1983. Maybe an award named in honor of Billy Mills, can be called; (THE BILLY MILLS UPSET AWARD)!

Most people know, that other professional sports, honor several past great athletes that have paved the way in their sport! Example: The NFL and MLB have so many different awards, named for past athletes; it’s hard to keep count.  

I don’t know, what’s all involved when it comes to naming awards, in honor of past athletes for Track & Field, but I’m hoping that the USATF association will consider some type of (Carl Lewis, Dick Fosbury, and Billy Mills) award, after all of what they have represented in the world of Track & Field, for the United States.

If this proposal is the wrong approach, to the USATF association, to try and promote some type of award honoring, Carl Lewis, Dick Fosbury, and Billy Mills, please let me know (if anything) I can do, to take the proper steps. I can be reached by my email or home address, listed above.

Louis Ritchie

Cc. Stephanie Hightower, President and Vice Chairman:


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