"After running the
9.9 in Sacramento, I knew I could break 10 seconds. And even before
I got to Mexico City, I had run three 9.1s in the 100-yard dash." -Jim
Jim Hines was born
on September 10, 1946 in Dumas, Arkansas. His family moved to Oakland,
California in 1952, where Hines began to play baseball with a group
of kids from their new neighborhood. He was incredibly fond of the game,
and dreamed of becoming like Willie Mays.
It was Hines' love
for baseball that got him involved in track. While on Lowell Junior
High's baseball team, Hines' speedy responses caught the attention of
the high school track coach. "I was playing center one day when somebody
hit a ball to left field," he recalls. "The left fielder fell, and I
ran over and caught it in left field." At first he wasn't interested
in track, but the track coach's persistence paid off, and when he came
to McClymonds High in 1961, Hines agreed to join the team.
"I chose track because…
I'd gotten a taste of what it was like to win," he says. "That was all
it took." During his high school career, Hines was undefeated in the
100 and 220 yard dashes. He set Oakland athletic records for both, and
senior year he ran the 100-yard dash in 9.4 to tie the national prep
After high school,
Hines attended Southern Texas University in Houston and ran for their
track team. While with the Houston Striders, he ran a 9.1 100-yard dash
to equal the world record, sharing the feat with Bob Hayes and Harry
Jerome. A year later, he made history at an AAU Nationals semi-final
heat in Sacramento. Hines ran a hand-timed 9.9 for 100 meters, making
him the first man to break the race's 10 second barrier.
Four months later,
at the Olympics in Mexico City, he was officially entered into the record
books as the world's fastest sprinter. When Hines ran the 100 yard dash
on October 15, 1968, the ABC network clock showed a time of 9.89. Though
the record books would later settle at a time of 9.95, which Hines disputed,
his record-breaking speed received international acclaim. Hines went
on to earn the United States another gold in the 400 meter relay.
Hines' record lasted
15 years-a mark that is highly unusual for sprint records. "Sprint records
usually last no more than several years," said historian and statistician
for Track and Field magazine, Hal Bateman. Hines was on the record books
until 1983, when Calvin Smith broke it with a 9.93.
Shortly after he
won the medals, his Houston apartment was robbed and thieves took the
medals. Helpless, Hines took out an advertisement in the local paper
asking that medals be returned, with no questions asked. Eventually
they arrived back at his apartment in a brown paper envelope, and have
since been stored in a safe deposit box.
Today, Jim Hines
is a member of the International Track and Field Hall of Fame, the United
States Track and Field Hall of Fame and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.