US sprinter Jim Hines, the first man to break the 10-second barrier for 100 metres, died at the age of 76, the association World Athletics said on Monday.
“World Athletics is deeply saddened to hear that legendary US sprinter Jim Hines died on Saturday,” the governing body said in a statement.
At the 1968 US Championships in Sacramento, Hines became the first man to officially go below 10 seconds for 100 metres, running a hand-timed 9.9 seconds.
A record that lasted 15 years
Later that year, in winning the 1968 Olympic 100 metres gold medal at altitude in Mexico City, Hines lowered the world record to an electronic-timed run of 9.95 seconds.
His record stood for 15 years until it was finally broken by another American, Calvin Smith, in 1983 with 9.93 seconds.
Hines also won another Olympic gold medal — and world record — when he anchored the USA to gold in the 4×100 metre relay.
Soon after the Olympics, burglars broke into his home in Houston and stole his gold medals. But after placing an advert in his local newspaper appealing for the medals to be returned, they were posted back to him in a plain brown envelope.
From sprinter to footballer
Hines, the son of a construction worker, was born in Dumas, Arkansas, in September 1946, but was raised in Oakland, California.
His early passion was for baseball but athletics coach Jim Coleman spotted his talent for sprinting and by the time Hines was 17, he already ranked among the top 20 in the world over 100 yards.
Shortly after the 1968 Olympics, however, Hines ended his sprint career to try his hand at the NFL professional football league. There Hines played for the Miami Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs. However, he could not translate his speed into success in a new discipline, and only had the ball in his hands a few times in his brief NFL career, earning the locker room nickname “Oops” during his year with the Dolphins
This article was originally published on DW.