Saturday, December 24, 2011

Olympic 400m legend and former Washington Husky coach Lee Evans has brain tumor & no insurance...

While reading my usual news sources on Christmas Eve, I came upon a very distressing report that a former University of Washington assistant track coach, and one of the greatest athletes to don the USA jersey in Olympic competition, Lee Evans (center/photo courtesy US Olympic Committee), was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor, and no health insurance.

Evans, who won the Olympic 400 meter title in the 1968 Mexico City Games, was visiting his sister in the San Francisco area when the tumor on his pituitary gland was discovered, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

According to a post written by Dave Zirin, who co-authored "The John Carlos Story", the prognosis for the 63-year old Evans isn't good. Carlos recently sent out an email to his fellow Olympians stating, “All of our teammates want to go out and say some prayers. All there is left to do is pray.”

On October 18,1968, Evans was the first man to break the 44 second barrier, running 43.86 in Mexico City to win the Olympic title within an hour of Bob Beamon's titanic leap of 29-2 1/2 (8.90m).

UPDATE:  For those of you too young to remember Evans, here is video of his epic race in Mexico City:

Beyond his two Olympic medals, Evans was one of the catalysts along with Tommie Smith and Carlos of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, a group that brought to the forefront the protest against racism and oppression both at home and abroad, punctuated by the raised-fist salute by Smith and Carlos on the victory podium after their 1-3 finish in the 200m.

Evans wore a black beret on the medal stand after winning the Olympic title, in a nod to the Black Panthers.

He was recently working for the United Nations after resigning from the University of South Alabama in 2008 as its track and cross country coach, and trying to build a school on 13 acres of land he purchased in Liberia.

En route to California, Evans was in Kentucky to visit his Olympic teammate Tom Lough, who helped introduce him to local farmers, as Evans planned to start a farm on his land in Liberia in addition to the school

Evans coached at the University of Washington from 2000-2001, and played a part in the development of sprinter Ja'Warren Hooker, who was a finalist at the US Olympic Trials in 2000 in the 400, and traveled to Sydney where he was a member of the USA 4 x 400 relay pool at that year's Olympics.

Evans is a member of the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame, and was inducted in 1983.

An account and donation page are being set up for Lee Evans but until then, checks can be sent to Lee Evans, 49096 Valeria St; Dos Palos, California 93620.

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