Olympian and former Houston track and field phenomenon Carl Lewis was inducted into the inaugural class of the USTFCCCA Collegiate Athlete Hall of Fame, on Monday, June 6, 2022, in Eugene, Oregon preceding the 2022 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships to be held at Hayward Field.
The event was held at the Hult Center for Performing Arts and was broadcast live.
ESPN’s John Anderson hosted the two-hour event that celebrated 30 inducted athletes with a look back at their collegiate careers via video tributes, roundtable panel discussions, and special guest appearances. A number of the inductees in attendance reflected on their own careers and provided perspective on the impact of fellow inductees.
Known as one of the greatest athletes in the world, Lewis was a six-time All-American and six-time national champion at Houston. He won nine individual conference championships during his two seasons. Lewis currently holds Houston’s school records for the indoor 55-meter dash (6.07) and both indoor and outdoor long jump records at 8.56 meters (28-1) and 8.62 meters (28-3.5). He went on to win 10 Olympic medals, nine of those gold, and 10 world championship medals.
Lewis came to Houston to run for head coach Tom Tellez in 1979. As a freshman, he appeared on the national scene when he qualified for the United States team to compete at the 1980 Olympics in the long jump and 4×100-meter relay team. Because of the U.S. boycott of the Moscow Olympics, Lewis had to wait four years for his Olympic glory.
During his sophomore year at Houston in 1981, Lewis set an indoor world record and three other collegiate records. The indoor standard came in the long jump with a leap of 8.49 meters/27-10¼, which he followed three weeks later at the NCAA Indoor Championships winning the 60-yard title.
He set collegiate records outdoors in the long jump (8.47 meters) and in 100 meters (10.00), then followed two weeks later with a collegiate-best of 8.62 meters (28-3.5).
In his final year in Houston, the Willingboro, New Jersey, native became the first athlete to win a track event and field event at the same NCAA Indoor Championships. He then repeated the feat at the NCAA Outdoor Championships the same year.
By the time the 1984 Olympics came around, Lewis had already ranked No. 1 in the world in both the 100 meters and long jump for three consecutive years. In Los Angeles, he matched Jesse Owens’ 1936 feat with four gold medals in the same events — the 100 meters, 200 meters, long jump and 4×100-meter relay. At the following 1988 Olympics, he continued his winning career, taking home gold medals in the 100 meters and long jump.
The year before the 1992 Olympics, Lewis broke the 100-meter world record with a time of 9.86 which he held until 1994. At the 1992 Olympics, he again won the long jump as well as the 4×100-meter relay, anchoring the U.S. team to a world record of 37.40. In 1996, in his final Olympics, Lewis won his fourth consecutive gold medal in the long jump.
At the conclusion of his competitive career, Lewis’ achievements were, and still are, unprecedented in track and field. He is one of two athletes to win nine Olympic gold medals and one of two to win four golds in the same event. He also holds the record for winning 10 medals at the World Outdoor Championships, including eight golds.
Lewis was named Assistant Track and Field Coach at the University of Houston in 2014 and since has helped the program to 17 combined conference championships, including guiding the Houston Men’s Track and Field team to a third-place finisher at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2019.