Olympian Larry Myricks Promotes Jackson Corporate Challenge
July 31, 2012
Larry Myricks is keeping tabs on Team USA in London, but the 4-time Olympian is more concerned about promoting athletic skills for ordinary Americans.
A former Mississippi College track sensation, Myricks capped off his world-class athletic career as a bronze medalist in the long jump at the 1988 Olympics.
Today, it saddens the 56-year-old that his native Mississippi is generating headlines as the nation’s fattest state. The leader of the Atlanta Corporate Challenge, he’s trying to get more adults in the South off the couch and on the road to better fitness. Myricks is taking his athletic games to more cities next year, including Jackson, Chattanooga and Birmingham.
“I want to get companies involved and do something for the kids,” Myricks says in a phone interview from Atlanta.
Running from June 15-29, 2013, the Jackson Corporate Challenge will provide an opportunity for employees at Mississippi companies of all sizes, churches, schools and government agencies to compete in a dozen events. Competition for corporate cups includes basketball, fishing, bowling, softball, track, flag football, and golf. Other sports for participants who must be 18-years-old and up will be darts, horseshoes, billiards and dodgeball.
The president and CEO of Mega Sports International in Georgia, the 1979 Mississippi College graduate recently finished overseeing the 2012 Atlanta Corporate Challenge, but is determined to spread his net a little wider in the region.
Seeing Mississippi proclaimed as the nation’s most obese state “is not good,” Myricks says. The state is also the worst in America in terms of heart disease and diabetes.
Rather than getting discouraged, such alarming health statistics are driving the U.S. Track & Field Hall of Fame member to work that much harder. He’s coming to Mississippi in October to encourage companies to join his cause and locate venues for the games in the Jackson area. Participation in athletic contests, he said, “brings teamwork, morale, camaraderie and company pride to the forefront.”
A former star athlete at Jackson’s Forest Hill High School, Myricks knows what it takes to overcome challenges in his path. After competing in his third Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984, his coach suggested it was time to retire. But Myricks was driven to do something he never accomplished: winning an Olympic medal.
The talented Mississippian finally won bronze in the long jump at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea behind Carl Lewis and Mike Powell. One of America’s Olympic greats, Lewis won nine gold medals during his career. Both Lewis and Myricks were inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame in New York the same year, 2001.
Looking back to the Olympic games 24 years ago, Myricks insists the USA’s 1988 track team “was the best ever.”
When asked to compare his USA track team to the 2012 squad in London this summer, Myricks never hesitated. “We’d take them out,” he says. “In the long jump, they couldn’t hold a candle to us. If you didn’t jump 28 feet, you couldn’t make the team.”
Myricks broke into the national track world limelight as a Mississippi College student by winning the NCAA title as a long jumper in 1976 and placing 2nd at the Olympic trials. One of his best seasons was 1979 when Larry won the NCAA, U.S. National and World Cup titles and was ranked No. 1 in the world. His best jump ever was 28’ 8 ¼ inches at the 1988 Olympic trials. The former Jacksonian is also a member of the Mississippi College Sports Hall of Fame.
Seeing Myricks lead the way for MC’s track teams against NCAA Division II schools like Delta State and bigger Division I squads like Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Tulane was an amazing experience, says assistant Choctaws track coach Mike McMillan. “He was thrilling to watch. He was just a fine young man.”
Just mentioning the name of Larry Myricks on the Mississippi College recruiting track was a big plus for MC track coaches. “It helped us tremendously,’’ McMillan said. “It made recruiting so much easier.”
When it was time to consider his college options, Myricks heard nothing but glowing things about nearby Mississippi College from Forest Hill High principal Joe Walker, Sr. His son, Joe Walker, Jr. coached the MC Choctaws a few miles away in Clinton. Going to a Baptist-affiliated school also was very important to Larry Myricks, who grew up attending Baptist churches in Mississippi.
With his outstanding athletic abilities, “he could have gone anywhere to college,” McMillan said.
After moving from California where he was in the corporate world to the Atlanta area, the 4-time Olympian regularly visits Mississippi to see his mother in Jackson. The Mississippi native is expected to stop at his alma mater in Clinton as he organizes the 2013 Jackson Corporate Challenge. The program begins with a June 15th opening ceremony and a track meet, involving such events as a sprint medley, mile run relay, shot put and long jump.
Photo: Larry Myricks