2 minute read

Al Oerter

The Later Years

Although he had hoped to win five consecutive gold medals for discus Oerter decided to retire after the 1968 Olympics. Injuries were taking their toll on him, and at that time track and field was far less lucrative. Oerter earned his living as a computer engineer. In 1976 Oerter had a change of heart, he came out of retirement and began training for the 1980 Olympics. He freely admitted that that year (1976), he tried steroids to bulk up but quickly gave up on the experiment when his blood pressure rose too high. He afterward became a vocal opponent of steroids and drugs. In 1976 Oerter set his own personal record discus throw of 227 feet, 103/4 inches. In 1980 the 44-year-old Oerter finished fourth in the Olympic trials, but the United States boycotted the summer Olympics that year (held in Moscow), so it was all a moot point.

In 1996 Oerter was further honored for his Olympic feats as the final torch bearer in Atlanta.

Related Biography: Coach Bill Easton

One of the greatest track coaches at the university level, Millard E. "Bill" Easton was born September 13, 1906 in Stinesville, Indiana. He attended Indiana University where he was coached by Billy Hayes.

Easton first made his mark as a coach at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. He coached the Drake track team from 1941 to 1947 and in that time the Drake cross-country team won three consecutive National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) titles—1944-46.

From Drake, Easton moved on to Kansas University, which he built into a powerhouse of track and field during the 1950s. During his 18-year tenure as track coach his teams won 39 conference championships. The cross-country team won the national title in 1953 and the outdoor team won the 1959 and 1960 national titles.

While at Kansas Easton coached thirty-two All-American athletes and four Olympians. He was also coach of the 1968 Mexican Olympic team. Easton was inducted into seven halls of fame including the U.S. Track & Field hall of Fame (1975), the National Track & Field Hall of Fame (1975), Drake relays Coaches Hall of Fame (1976). Easton died October 7, 1997.

Awards and Accomplishments

1954 U.S. high school record
1956, 1960, 1964, 1968 Olympic gold medal
1957, 1959-60, 1962, 1964, 1966 U.S. National Champion
1959 Pan-American champion
1962 American record (3); world record (2)
1963-64 American and world records
1974 USA Track & Field Hall of Fame
1983 Olympic Hall of Fame

Oerter continued to compete until the mid-1980s, long after his legacy as one of the great discus throwers of all time was secured, courtesy of his four Olympic gold medals and his four world records. In addition, there was the Pan-American championship and the five U.S. records that he held. In 1974 Oerter was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame and in 1983 he was inducted in the Olympic Hall of Fame.

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsOther SportsAl Oerter Biography - First Olympic Success, Sets World Records, Chronology, Pain And Triumph, The Later Years