On Thursday, September 22nd, Ocean City High School welcomed former Olympian and record breaker, Jim Ryun, to speak to the school’s Cross Country team. Ryun is a silver medalist for Team USA, where he participated in the track & field 1,500 meter run during the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. The Wichita, Kansas native also shocked the world when he became the first high school boy to run a mile in under four minutes back in 1964.
The student athletes, along with coaches and a few members of the community including a former OCHS athlete, Brett Johnson, listened intently as Ryun shared his journey from disheartened middle school athlete to USA Olympian. His story was one of hope and determination to succeed. When asked what he expected from speaking at the High School’s Community Room, Ryun responded with “I am looking forward to meeting the students and encouraging them. We’re all here to have fun, but to also learn a few things.”
Coach Bill Moorlyn introduced Ryun, who took the stage with a humorous story of how he met his wife. Ryun kept the feel of the event lighthearted, as he explained to the students how he was rejected from a church baseball league, kicked off the middle school basketball team, and placed as the last man on the high school cross country team. As a kid, Ryun looked up to Superman, and reminisced about the time he grabbed the tallest glass in the kitchen, mixed together anything he could find in the fridge and spice cabinets, and forced himself to drink it in hopes of gaining superpowers.
It was not until trying out for various activities on his high school track & field team that Ryun realized his specialty was not hurdles or distance, but the mile run. With encouragement from his coach and the desire to prove himself, Ryun made what once seemed an unrealistic goal become a reality when he ran his under four-minute mile. He was then carried into the spotlight by making the Olympic team as a high school junior, becoming Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year (1996), and becoming a member of the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame to name a few accomplishments.
Wrapping up the event, Ryun took questions from the students and explained his current running camp for those interested. The program trains aspiring runners to think and act like champions. For more information on the camp, visit www.ryunrunning.com.