Sunday, November 15, 2015

V 5 N. 107 A Gem about Otis Davis

Ask anyone today who is the greatest University of Oregon track and field athleted ever, and Steve Prefontaine comes up.  Steve was an inspiration to many and was out there in front of millions of track fans and no doubt can honestly lay claim to the greatest Duck of all time.  Yet if you ask the fans about Otis Davis, the response most generally will be, "Who is Otis Davis?".

Davis was without doubt one of Bill Bowerman's greatest pieces of track coaching.  A 26 year old basketball player and Air Force veteran  who walked on to the team on a lark and found a niche in the 400 meters by process of elimination.  In 1960 he was third in the Olympic Trials in the 400 meters, and with only a few warm up events between the trials and the games, he went into the 400 finals in Rome and came away with a win and a world record.  He followed that up with a second gold medal in the 4x400 meters.   So if one looks at Pre's Olympic production against that of Otis Davis, Davis wins, game, set, and match.

Davis was honored at Eugene this Fall and brought back to the campus for the first time in 20 years.  He is 81 years old, worked for many years in education in New Jersey.  He grew up in Tuscaloosa, AL where he had no chance to prove himself at the University of Alabama in the days of segregation.

Writing about Davis this week, in the Eugene Register Guard, Chris Hansen produced this gem about Otis Davis.

Otis Davis

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