By LARRY VAUGHT
Kenny Harrison still holds the Olympic triple jump record with his leap of 59 feet, 4 inches in 1996. That was 22 years ago — and to make it even more amazing Harrison actually made his record leap into a headwind.
Yet here this National Track and Field Hall of Fame was in the long jump pit at Centre College in Danville Thursday working with participants at the Maximum Velocity Track & Field Academy.
If that wasn’t enough, he was even kneeling down and letting youngsters leap over his head.
“It is about trust,” Harrison said when I asked him if he was crazy or just that brave not to fear for his safety. “Once you see kids train and how focused they are, then you put your trust in them and they trust you. Some kids might not want to kill a Hall of Famer, but to see the trust they need and the confidence they develop during camp is a pleasure to see.”
So who gave him the idea for that training routine?
“I did this myself just to get the trust of the kids. I have laid down before in the pit for younger kids and let them jump over me when they are having bad days and are bored or not giving 100 percent,” he said. “I will tell them if you land on me, it is on. They will get a whole new energy and exceed what they wanted to do. It takes them out of their comfort zone.”
He has no idea why no one has been able to break his record (another clinician here, Kevin Young, still has the 400-meter hurdles Olympic and world record set in 1992).
“I am the only record holder in the history of track and field to break a record against a headwind. Anybody that breaks my record, I don’t care because it is not against the wind. They get an asterisk beside the record if it does happen,” Harrison joked.
“But you would think the records would be gone. Carl Lewis’ records have been shattered and gone. Michael Johnson’s records are gone. There are a lot of what people thought were unbreakable records that are gone. For ours to remain is pretty significant.”
Yes it is and Harrison admits he was watching in 2016 hoping no one broke the record so he could have made it 20 years as the record holder.
“My parents have a record breaking party and we are just celebrating and waiting for someone to break it but no matter what there will be a party. I am hoping an American will knock it off the box,” Harrison said. “Then again, hanging on to the record is pretty cool, too. It gives me something to tell these young kids about.”