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Leroy Burrell

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Title: Leroy Burrell  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: 100 metres, 1990 IAAF Grand Prix Final, Andre Cason, Michael Marsh (athlete), Ben Johnson (American sprinter)
Collection: 1967 Births, African-American Male Track and Field Athletes, African-American Track and Field Athletes, American Male Track and Field Athletes, American Sprinters, Athletes (Track and Field) at the 1992 Summer Olympics, Former World Record Holders in Athletics (Track and Field), Houston Cougars Men's Track and Field Athletes, Living People, Male Sprinters, Olympic Gold Medalists for the United States, Olympic Gold Medalists for the United States in Track and Field, Olympic Medalists in Athletics (Track and Field), Olympic Track and Field Athletes of the United States, People from Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, People from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Sportspeople from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, World Championships in Athletics Athletes for the United States, World Championships in Athletics Medalists
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Leroy Burrell

Leroy Burrell
Personal information
Nationality American
Born (1967-02-21) February 21, 1967
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Residence Houston, Texas, U.S.
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight 180 lb (82 kg)
Sport Running
Event(s) 100 metres, 200 metres
College team University of Houston

Leroy Russel Burrell (born February 21, 1967) is an American former track and field athlete, who twice set the world record for the 100 m sprint, setting a time of 9.90 seconds in June 1991. This was broken by Carl Lewis in September at the World Track and Field Championships. In that race, Burrell came in second, yet he beat his own record. Burrell set the record for a second time when he ran 9.85 sec in July 1994, a record that stood until the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, when Donovan Bailey ran 9.84 ssec.

Burrell grew up in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, and attended Penn Wood High School, where he single-handedly won the state championship by winning the 100 m, 200 m, long jump, and triple jump. Suffering from poor eyesight accentuated by a childhood eye injury, he was poor at other sports, but excelled on the track from an early age.

College career

He studied at the University of Houston, where he was a successful participant in its track program. In 1985–86, Burrell broke Houston's freshman long jump record that was held by Carl Lewis, when he leaped 26 feet 9 inches at a dual meet against UCLA in 1986. Later that season, he faced one of the most challenging moments of his track career.

After jumping 26' 7.25" (8.11 m) in the preliminaries of the 1986 Southwest Conference Outdoor Championships, Burrell jumped almost 27 feet (8.23 m) before landing awkwardly on his third jump. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He finished second at the meet, but many people feared the injury could be career-ending.

In 1988, he returned to the SWC Championships, where he finished second in the 100 m and third in the long jump. At the NCAA Championships, Burrell earned All-America honors with a fifth-place finish in the 100 m and a seventh-place showing in the long jump.

The next year, he won the NCAA Indoor Long Jump Championship with a leap of 26' 5.50" (8.06 m). At the NCAA outdoor meet, he set the NCAA outdoor meet record with a personal best jump of 27' 5.50" (8.37 m). But, Ohio State's Joe Greene recorded a wind-aided mark of 27' 7.25" (8.41 m) to win the event and left Burrell with a record-setting second-place finish.

Professional career

Burrell was plagued by injuries and bad luck throughout his career, particularly around major championships. He won gold in the 100 m ahead of Carl Lewis at 1990 Goodwill Games in Seattle. He won the silver in the 100 m behind Lewis at the 1991 World Championships, and at the 1992 Summer Olympics was false-started in the 100 m final and, when the race finally restarted, his reaction off the line was slow and he finished fifth. He did though manage to win a relay gold as part of the US team at Barcelona.

Since his retirement in 1998, Burrell has replaced his old college mentor, Tom Tellez, as coach of the University of Houston's track team. Burrell has led UH to 14 men’s Conference USA titles (nine indoor, five outdoor) and nine women’s titles (four indoor, five outdoor).

On 19 May 1990, Burrell ran a wind-assisted 200 m at College Station in a time of 19.61 seconds. The wind speed was +4.0 m per second. This was the fastest time for the 200 m for over six years until the 1996 Olympic final in Atlanta, where Michael Johnson ran 19.32 seconds. Ironically, Johnson was second in the 1990 College Station race, in a time of 19.91 seconds.

Personal life

He married Michelle Finn, also a sprinter, in 1994, and they have three sons: Cameron—who is currently one of the fastest sprinters in his age group worldwide[1]— Joshua and Jaden. His younger sister Dawn also competed in track and field at the highest level.


Personal bests

Date Event Venue Best performance
February 13, 1991 60 meters Madrid, Spain 6.48 s
July 6, 1994 100 meters Lausanne, Switzerland 9.85 s
June 27, 1992 200 meters New Orleans, Louisiana, United States 20.12 s
June 2, 1989 Long jump Provo, Utah, United States 8.37 m
  • All information from IAAF profile[2]


  1. ^ Following in his Parents' Very Fast Footsteps
  2. ^ Leroy Burrell profile at IAAF

External links

  • Leroy Burrell profile at IAAF
  • University of Houston page on Burrell
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