Herb Douglas, 1948 Olympic long jump medalist, dies at 101

Herb Douglas

Herb Douglas, who turned a chance encounter with Jesse Owens as a teenager into fuel to win a bronze medal in the long jump at the 1948 Olympics, has died. He was 101.

The University of Pittsburgh, where Douglas starred on the football and track teams before later serving in various roles for his alma mater, said Douglas died Saturday.

“In every role that he filled, as an aspiring athlete from Hazelwood, as a student-athlete and University trustee and as an esteemed businessman, Olympian and community leader, Herb Douglas excelled,” Pittsburgh Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said. “He was both a champion himself and a champion of others, never hesitating to open doors of opportunity and help people pursue their own success.”

Douglas, a Pittsburgh native, was 14 when he met Owens, the American track and field star who won four gold medals in sprints and the long jump at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Owens spoke at an elementary school near the Hazelwood neighborhood where Douglas grew up.

“I prayed every day to stand on the podium and make the Olympic team,” Douglas said. “When he left, Jesse put his arms around me and told me to get an education.”

He told Douglas: “That’s more than what I did at your age” and encouraged Douglas to go to college. Douglas eventually checked both items — the Olympics and a college education.

Douglas hoped to compete at the 1944 Olympics, which were canceled due to World War II. After starting his college career at Xavier University in New Orleans, a Historically Black College and University, he returned home to Pittsburgh to work at his father’s parking garage.

Douglas eventually enrolled at Pitt in 1945, becoming one of the first African Americans to play football for the Panthers while also starring on the track team. He won four intercollegiate championships in the long jump and another in the 100-yard dash at Pitt and three AAU titles in the long jump. He earned a spot on the 1948 U.S. Olympic team after finishing runner-up to Willie Steele at the Olympic trials.

Douglas’ leap of 24-feet-9 inches (7.545 meters) at the 1948 Olympics in London carried him to bronze behind gold medalist Steele and silver medalist Thomas Bruce of Australia.

“As the years went on, I accepted that third place like it was first place,” Douglas told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2021.

Douglas hoped to go into coaching after earning his master’s degree in education from Pitt in 1950 but found few coaching opportunities in his hometown before going into the corporate world.

He worked in sales and marketing, starting at Pabst Brewing Co. He moved to Philadelphia when he joined Schieffelin and Co., which was later acquired by Moet Hennessy. He became a vice president, among the first African Americans at that level, and worked there 30 years.

Douglas maintained close ties with his alma mater throughout his life, establishing the Herb P. Douglas scholarship and serving as a mentor to track star Roger Kingdom, who went on to win gold in the 110m hurdles at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics.

“We developed such a bond that I started to call him ‘Daddy Herb,’ ” Kingdom said. “He inspired me in so many ways but gave me two very important directives. First, finish my degree as I promised my mother. Second, he shared his secret for success: ‘Always analyze, organize, initiate and follow through.’”

Douglas was inducted into the inaugural Pitt athletics Hall of Fame class in 2018. The university also is naming the 300-meter indoor track at its planned Victory Heights facility after Douglas.

“His incredible intellect and determination were only surpassed by his personal kindness,” Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke said. “Pitt Athletics is forever indebted to his passion and support.”

Douglas, who remained friendly with Owens, co-founded the non-profit International Athletic Association and created the Jesse Owens Global Award for Peace.

Born March 9, 1922, Douglas’ survivors include his wife Minerva Douglas, daughter Barbara Joy Ralston, daughter-in-law Susan Douglas and four grandchildren.

Ryan Crouser breaks world record in shot put at Los Angeles Grand Prix


Two-time Olympic champion Ryan Crouser registered one of the greatest performances in track and field history, breaking his world record and throwing three of the six farthest shot puts of all time at the Los Angeles Grand Prix on Saturday.

Crouser unleashed throws of 23.56 meters, 23.31 and 23.23 at UCLA’s Drake Stadium. His previous world record from the Tokyo Olympic Trials was 23.37. He now owns the top four throws in history, and the 23.23 is tied for the fifth-best throw in history.

“The best thing is I’m still on high volume [training], heavy throws in the ring and heavy weights in the weight room, so we’re just starting to work in some speed,” the 6-foot-7 Crouser, who is perfecting a new technique coined the “Crouser slide,” told Lewis Johnson on NBC.

Sha’Carri Richardson won her 100m heat in 10.90 seconds into a slight headwind, then did not start the final about 90 minutes later due to cramping, Johnson said. Richardson is ranked No. 1 in the world in the 100m in 2023 (10.76) and No. 2 in the 200m (22.07).

Jamaican Ackeem Blake won the men’s 100m in a personal best 9.89 seconds. He now ranks third in the world this year behind Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala and American Fred Kerley, who meet in the Diamond League in Rabat, Morocco on Sunday (2-4 p.m. ET, CNBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock).

The next major meet is the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in early July, when the top three in most individual events qualify for August’s world championships.

Richardson will bid to make her first global championships team, two years after having her Olympic Trials win stripped for testing positive for marijuana and one year after being eliminated in the first round of the 100m at USATF Outdoors.

LA GRAND PRIX: Full Results

Also Saturday, Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico won the 100m hurdles in 12.31, the fastest time ever this early in a year. Nigerian Tobi Amusan, who at last July’s worlds lowered the world record to 12.12, was eighth in the eight-woman field in 12.69.

Maggie Ewen upset world champion Chase Ealey in the shot put by throwing 20.45 meters, upping her personal best by more than three feet. Ewen went from 12th-best in American history to third behind 2016 Olympic champion Michelle Carter and Ealey.

Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic ran the fastest women’s 400m since the Tokyo Olympics, clocking 48.98 seconds. Paulino is the Olympic and world silver medalist. Olympic and world champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas is on a maternity break.

Rio Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphy won the 800m in 1:44.75, beating a field that included most of the top Americans in the event. Notably absent was 2019 World champion Donovan Brazier, who hasn’t raced since July 20 of last year amid foot problems.

CJ Allen won the 400m hurdles in a personal best 47.91, consolidating his argument as the second-best American in the event behind Olympic and world silver medalist Rai Benjamin, who withdrew from the meet earlier this week.

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Primoz Roglic set to win Giro d’Italia over Geraint Thomas

106th Giro d'Italia 2023 - Stage 20
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Primož Roglič all but secured the Giro d’Italia title on Saturday by overtaking leader Geraint Thomas on the penultimate stage despite having a mechanical problem on the mountain time trial.

Roglič started the stage 26 seconds behind Thomas — who was trying to become the oldest Giro champion in history — but finished the route 40 seconds quicker than the British cyclist after the demanding climb of the Monte Lussari.

That saw Roglič move into the leader’s pink jersey, 14 seconds ahead of Thomas going into the race’s mainly ceremonial final stage.

Roglič was cheered on all the way by thousands of fans from just across the border to his native Slovenia. They packed the slopes of the brutal ascent up Monte Lussari, which had an elevation of more than 3,000 feet and gradients of up to 22%.

The 33-year-old Roglič celebrated at the end with his wife and son, who was wearing a replica of the pink jersey.

“Just something amazing, eh? It’s not at the end about the win itself, but about the people, and the energy here, so incredible, really moments to live and to remember,” said Roglič, who had tears in his eyes during the post-stage television interview, which he did with his son in his arms.

It will be a fourth Grand Tour victory for Roglič, who won the Spanish Vuelta three years in a row from 2019-2021

Roglič also almost won the Tour de France in 2020, when he was leading going into another mountain time trial on the penultimate stage. But that time it was Roglič who lost time and the race to compatriot Tadej Pogačar in one of the most memorable upsets in a Grand Tour in recent years.

It appeared as if the Jumbo-Visma cyclist’s hopes were evaporating again when he rode over a pothole about halfway through the brutal climb up Monte Lussari and his chain came off, meaning he had to quickly change bicycles.

His teammates and staff had their hands over their heads in disbelief.

Despite that setback, Roglič — who had been 16 seconds ahead of Thomas at the previous intermediate time check — went on to increase his advantage.

“I dropped the chain, I mean it’s part of it,” he said. “But I got started again and I just went … I had the legs, the people gave me extra (energy).”

The 33-year-old Roglič won the stage ahead of Thomas. Joao Almeida was third, 42 seconds slower.

For Thomas, his bad luck at the Giro continued. In 2017, he was involved in a crash caused by a police motorbike, and three years later he fractured his hip after a drinks bottle became lodged under his wheel – being forced to abandon both times.

Thomas turned 37 on Thursday. The Ineos Grenadiers cyclist had seemed poised to become the oldest Giro winner in history — beating the record of Fiorenzo Magni, who was 34 when he won in 1955.

“I could feel my legs going about a kilometer and a half from the top. I just didn’t feel I had that real grunt,” Thomas said. “I guess it’s nice to lose by that much rather than a second or two, because that would be worse I think.

“At least he smashed me and to be honest Primoz deserves that. He had a mechanical as well, still put 40 seconds into me so chapeau to him. If you’d told me this back in (February), March, I would have bit your hand off but now I’m devastated.”

Thomas and Roglič exchanged fist bumps as they waited their turn to ride down the ramp at the start of the 11.6-mile time trial.

The Giro will finish in Rome on Sunday, with 10 laps of a seven-mile circuit through the streets of the capital, taking in many of its historic sites.

“One more day to go, one more focus, because I think the lap is quite hard, technical. So it’s not over til it’s finished,” Roglič said. “But looks good, voila.”

The route will pass by places such as the Altare della Patria, the Capitoline Hill, the Circus Maximus and finish at the Imperial Forums, in the shadow of the Colosseum.

The Tour de France starts July 1, airing on NBC Sports and Peacock.

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