Olympic hurdler inspiring Malverne runners
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Atkinson recalls watching the 1996 Summer Olympics Games and seeing Adkins win the gold medal. “I started screaming because I was like, ‘He’s not only the fastest kid at Davison, he’s the fastest guy in the world,’” he said.
The New York Road Runners, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to get people running in order to make them happier, healthier and more confident, hired Adkins this summer. He now works with kids, physical education teachers, and track coaches to teach and promote the sport of running. From 2006 to 2011, Adkins was a director for the Armory Foundation, which oversees one of the most famous indoor tracks in the nation, the New Balance Track and Field Center in Washington Heights.
The sport of running has taken him a long way since he started at the age of 7. He ran all throughout his time in the Malverne School District, but it wasn’t until his junior year in 1987 when he realized how fast hewas.
“At the time, I was maturing physically and training really hard at the same time,” he said, “which was something that catapulted me to the top. I became New York state champ [in 400m hurdles] in my junior year.”
Adkins graduated from Malverne High School in 1988 and went on to attend Georgia Tech University, where he continued to run track. In 1992, he was ranked No. 1 in the 400m hurdles among NCAA athletes, but never took home the crown. “In 1992 I did not win the NCCA Championships because I fell at the eighth hurdle,” he said of the meet. His rough 1992 campaign continued when he failed to qualify for the Summer Olympic Games later in the year. He finished fourth in the 400m hurdles when only the top three places qualified.
In 1995, Adkins won the 400m hurdles at the World Championships in Sweden. Leading up to the Summer Olympic Games the following year, Adkins said that he wasn’t the consensus pick to take home the gold in the 400m hurdles. In fact, some writers had him finishing third. Adkins wound up proving them wrong, taking home the gold and making his hometown proud.
When he arrived back in Lakeview in 1996, there was a parade in his honor, and the street he grew up on was renamed Derrick Adkins Lane.
“When I won it became a really big deal in Lakeview and the Malverne School District,”