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  • Writer's pictureHistoric Columbus

Harvey Glance - Olympian

SOURCE:  Olympian Glance Made Bi-City Wake Up to Track by Roscoe Nance, Special Sesquicentennial Supplement of the Ledger-Enquirer, May 7, 1978.


When Harvey Glance was just a ninth grader at Central High, he had a dream, like most youngsters his age. Some youngsters probably dreamed of growing up to be wealthy, as doctors, lawyers and engineers. Others as rich rock stars. Glance's dream was different though. He wanted to run in the 1976 Olympics.

At that time, the idea had to be considered nothing more than a dream - a dream that would never be fulfilled. Track was nothing more than a stepchild in sports programs in this area, taking the leftovers from football, baseball, and basketball.

Glance made his dream come true, however, and in doing so reshaped the way a lot of people look at track. As a freshman at Auburn University in 1976, he won the NCAA indoor and outdoor 60-meter championships. He also tied the world record for the 100 meters and was a member of the U.S. 440 relay team that won a gold medal at the Olympics in Montreal.

"He's made this community wake up to track," says Sam Roberts, who put together a string of seven consecutive state championships at Baker High in the 1960s. "He's done more than anyone or any group. It was football and basketball as far as sports were concerned. Track was just a fill in.

"I helped get track programs here started. Then Wallace Davis came along with some fine teams Carver and Hardaway. Then Glance came along. He was the crowning glory."

Says Davis, who now coaches football at Carver High, "I saw times before the Glance era when you couldn't get people to participate in track. The success he's had makes people feel they can do it too. He is really someone it helps kids to pattern themselves after."

The road that carried Glance from Phenix City to the 1976 Olympics was not an easy one to travel.

"I got a lot of wisecracks," he recalls. "I would be on the track running and people would say 'Look at that dude. He's crazy. Why don't you play football or basketball?' I could have been discouraged. It was my motivation that kept me going."

Those wisecracks have turned to cheers now.

"I think people are learning to appreciate track," says Glance. "There are some great track athletes in this area, and I think they can make it big too. I want to feel that I've played a major role in track in these parts. I want to be an example of how you can come from nowhere to be an Olympic gold medalist and a world record holder."

Glance has succeeded in that effort also. Youngsters running in the streets say "I'm Harvey Glance" much the same way youngsters at one time wanted to be Jimmy Brown in pickup football games or Willie Mays in baseball.

"He's smooth and I like his technique," says Hardaway sprinter Richard Campbell who has patterned his style after Glance's. "He blasts out of the blocks.

"He's a nice guy. He's really good, good friendship-wise. He's not big-headed about his gold medal. He gave me some tips and he talked to the people at Auburn about how I did running against him over the summer.

Brookstone School coach Jim Rutland probably summed it up best when he said, "Everybody around here knows Harvey. People see him and they remember how he competed around here. He's a good ambassador for track."

And it all started as a dream.

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