Four-time Olympian and National Track & Field Hall of Fame member George Young, the bronze medalist in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase at the 1968 Games in Mexico City, died November 8 in Arizona.
He was 85. At the 1960 Games, Young ran in the heats of the steeplechase, and in 1964 he improved to fifth. At Mexico City in 1968 Young raced to bronze and also finished 16th in the marathon. He qualified for the Munich Olympics in 1972 in the 5,000m, running in the heats.
Young, born on July 24, 1937, in Roswell, New Mexico, made his first international appearance for the U.S. in 1959 with a fifth-place finish at the Pan American Games and was one of the top U.S. distance runners through the 1960s. Young won three U.S. Olympic Trials titles in the steeplechase from 1960-68 and added the marathon crown in 1968.
He ended his career with seven additional AAU national titles and set an American record of 8:30.6 in the steeplechase on June 21, 1968, in Sacramento. In 1969, he set an indoor world best of 13:09.8 for three miles and tied the indoor two mile WB with an 8:27.2. Young cracked the 4:00 barrier for the mile in 1972 with a 3:59.6.
Following his retirement from competition, Young became a school teacher and coach, serving as cross country and track and field coach at Central Arizona College for 25 years before moving up to the athletic director position.
He was honored by the school with the naming of its campus event center as the George Young Activity Center in 1977. He was inducted into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame in 1981.
Young on his day—and he had many—handed defeats to such legends as Frank Shorter, Ron Clarke, Billy Mills, and Gaston Roelants. He began racing internationally when America had no world-class distance runners, and he went on to be on the same team as Mills and Bob Schul in 1964, and Shorter and Prefontaine in 1972.