New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) American quarter-miler Lee Evans, the 1968 Olympic Games champion and first to break 44-second barrier, died on Wednesday. He was 74.
“World Athletics is deeply saddened to hear that 1968 Olympic 400m champion Lee Evans — a leading human rights activist and world record-breaker — died on Wednesday at the age of 74,” World Athletics said in a statement on Thursday.
Evans was the first athlete to clock sub-44 seconds for the 400m race. He clocked 43.86 seconds to win Olympic gold in high altitude of Mexico City in 1968.
Off the field, Evans was also remembered as a leading member of the Olympic Project for Human Rights.
“At the 1968 Mexico Games, where his teammates Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised black-gloved fists on the 200m podium, Evans and his compatriots Larry Smith and Ron Freeman all wore black berets to show solidarity with Smith and Carlos and other civil rights organisations,” said the World Athletics release.
Evans’s world record stood for almost 20 years until Butch Reynolds ran 43.29 seconds in August, 1988.
Evans was also member of USA’s world record-breaking 4x400m relay team that clocked 2:56.16 in Olympics. He went on to become a member of the US Olympic Hall of Fame and joined the coaching staff of the University of Washington in 2002.