Redan High School track team member Cedric Roberts poses with Ralph Boston.
For 16-year-old Cedric Roberts, meeting three-time Olympic medalist Ralph Boston a few days ago was like turning the pages of a history book.
“I want to run in college and make it to the professional level some day soon. Mr. Boston has done all that and more, so I just tried to soak up everything and learn as much as I could,” said Roberts, who is an 11th grade student who is on the track team at Redan High School in Stone Mountain.
Boston, a former World Record Holder in the long jump, visited the high school on Jan. 22 to share stories of the past and inspire the school’s track teams.
“I had a tough journey growing up in racist, segregated Laurel, Mississippi but track and field took me to more than 64 countries. Imagine what you can do now. The sky is the limit for all of you,” said Boston, who brought his gold, silver and bronze medals he won in the 1960, ‘64 and ‘68 Olympics to show the students. “I didn’t bring these medals to brag or boast, but to show you some rewards for hard work and dedication. I hope they can provide you with the motivation to meet your goals and do better than me.”
Redan Principal Gregory Goodwin said it was a pleasure having Boston at his school.
“What a wonderful experience for our boys’ and girls’ track team to be able
to meet and receive valuable life lessons from one of track and field’s all time greats,” said Goodwin, who is the 2013 Region 3 Principal of the Year. “Mr. Boston shared priceless stories of his encounters with legendary figures like Muhammad Ali, Willie Mays, Jessie Owens, his Tennessee State University college teammate, Wilma Rudolph, and USA Track and Field teammates. He dared our teams to dream and dream big.”
Boston, 74, now lives in the metro Atlanta area and is working on his autobiography.
In August 1960, Boston broke Jesse Owens’ 25-year old record with a leap of 26 feet, 11.25 inches in Rome, Italy to become the Olympic champion.
The USA Track and Field Hall of Famer also became the first person to
surpass the 27-foot mark in the long jump to again set the world record in 1961 at 27 feet and 1/2 inches. Boston went on to compete in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, winning a silver and bronze medal, respectively, in the two competitions. For Boston, gold medals in the long jump also came in the 1963 and 1967 at the Pan American games.
The Redan track program has a productive history of its own winning back-to-back Class AAAA state boys track titles in 2004 and 2005 and the girls’ winning titles in 2005 and 2012.