The eight million dollar National Track and Field Hall of Fame will today open its doors at New York's famous 168th Street Armory which houses one of the most famous indoor tracks in the world.
"Finally, the National Track and Field Hall of Fame has a home
in the United States that's worthy of the name," said quadruple Olympic Discus champion Al Oerter, looking around at the exhibits and historic artifacts that cover three floors of the indoor venue.
"Most of these things were in almost a closet in Indianapolis,
but now they are back in a place where track and field truly started in the United States. It's as it should be."
Oerter, a 67-year-old native New Yorker living in Florida, struck Olympic gold in 1956, 1960, 1964 and 1968, and all four medals are on permanent display at the Hall of Fame, along with the wood and metal discus he threw for his fourth victory in Mexico City.
"So I had to come back and see some of my old stuff," he added.
What Oerter calls his "old stuff" and the other items on display
have a great resonance for track and field enthusiasts.
Mildred "Babe" Didriksen's 1932 leather spikes share a cabinet
with Michael Johnson's gold four-ounce Nikes. They sit alongside Wilma Rudolph's singlet and Jim Thorpe's javelin.
Great prominence is given to the marathon, with a hall named in honour of one of the driving forces behind the city's race, Fred
The names of all 197 inductees are etched into a vast glass wall that stands at one end of the track.
Oerter was one of a number of the United States' greatest track and field stars who were given a special preview of the Hall of Fame last Thursday evening (22 Jan).
Among others, Oerter was joined by 1964 10,000m champion Billy Mills and 1996 Olympic and current World indoor and outdoor High Hurdles champion Allen Johnson.
For more Hall of Fame information -
Agencies & IAAF