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HCC clinic is Olympic champion's next hurdle

December 17, 2006|by ANDY MASON

Roger Kingdom is coming to Hagerstown today, hoping to make a good impression on the local track and field community - in case his two Olympic gold medals haven't quite done the trick.

Kingdom, the head men's and women's track coach at California University of Pennsylvania, will highlight an all-star cast of instructors at the first Hagerstown Community College Track & Field Clinic this afternoon at HCC's athletic complex.

"I'm in the coaching business now and this helps with the recruiting process, getting to know some of the coaches and kids and for the coaches and kids to get to know me," Kingdom said.

The 44-year-old Kingdom already is world-renowned for his feats in the 110-meter high hurdles.

He was twice the Olympic champion in the event - in 1984 in Los Angeles and in 1988 in Seoul. In 1989, he set the world record of 12.92 seconds, which stood until 1993.

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"For four years, I could say I was the fastest man ever in that event," Kingdom said. "I'm just starting to feel it now, though. It's like, 'Wow, did I really do that?' How many can say they were the fastest ever?

"It really makes you reflect, and it gives you stories to relate to the kids and motivate them."

Today, he'll share his secrets with area coaches and athletes.

"It's 'hurdles my way,' not how anyone else does it," Kingdom said. "It's what I did to become successful."

He and the other clinic leaders - including former Hagerstown Junior College and U.S. high jumping star Mike Pascuzzo, former world-ranked long jumper Jason Grimes and more than a half-dozen others with different backgrounds and specialties, from shot put to distance running - are doing this for free.

"We don't have anyone we're paying," HCC track coach and clinic director Andy Reid said. "It's unbelievable."

The walk-up fee to attend today's clinic - which will run from 12:45 to 5 p.m. - is $60 per person. All of the money goes to the HCC track program.

"We thought it would be a great way to do two things at once," Reid said. "We're going to educate the coaches and athletes in the area, expose them to some big-time people, and we're going to raise some money for scholarship purposes. We hope to do this every year."

Pascuzzo - a three-time Olympic Trials competitor with a high jump personal best of 7 feet, 5 1/4 inches - was instrumental in bringing the big names to his alma mater today.

"I'm the common thread with all these guys," he said. "(Kingdom) and I have been friends for 25 years, and he was very eager to help out. I said, 'Who knows? Maybe you'll get a good recruit out of this.'

"We just want to come in and show how the mind of a champion works. It's a unique perspective we want to share."

Pascuzzo, a New Jersey native and resident, said the clinic is the perfect opportunity for him to give something back to Hagerstown, where he spent some formative years in the early 1980s.

"I can't state it enough: Everything I do today is based on the life lessons I learned at Hagerstown - hard work and commitment to excellence," Pascuzzo said. "I went from a boy to a man at Hagerstown."

"Andy Reid is doing a great job, but it takes money and resources," he said. "We want to put money into the track program and help re-establish Hagerstown as one of the premier track and field programs on the East Coast."




Andy Mason is assistant sports editor of The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2334, or by e-mail at andrewm@herald-mail.com

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