News15 Jul 2022

USA's Olympic discus legend Oerter honoured in Eugene


Cathy Oerter with World Athletics President Sebastian Coe (© Getty Images)

To mark the first outdoor World Athletics Championships to be held in the USA, four-time Olympic discus champion Al Oerter has been honoured with the award of the World Athletics Heritage Plaque in the posthumous category of Legend.

At a dinner held on the eve of the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 (15-24 July), the plaque was presented by World Athletics President Sebastian Coe to Oerter’s wife Cathy, who took the opportunity to donate to the Museum of World Athletics (MOWA) an autographed discus and a painting from her late husband, who passed away in 2007. Al Oerter, an accomplished artist, founded the Art of the Olympians in 2006, which is a programme of the Al Oerter Foundation.

Oerter is one of only two athletes in history to win four consecutive (1956 to 1968) Olympic titles in the same event.

Among the guests at the dinner was International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.

“We have been to Oregon on two previous occasions. In 2014, when we had an outstanding World U20 Championships, and a couple of years later for the World Indoor Championships in Portland, but this is very special,” said Coe, who hosted the dinner. “It is special because this is a country that has, for the largest part of my athletics career and latterly my administrative career, been the powerhouse of track and field. We are just so pleased that you have opened your doors to us, that allows us to help you grow your sport and in turn, helps us to develop and grow our sport globally. We are both mutually dependent on each other’s success.

“We are looking towards some great head-to-heads, hopefully some world records, and all in a fabulous purpose-built stadium.”

Earlier in the evening, two World Athletics Council Members – Vice President Ximena Restrepo and Nawal El Moutawakel – also made significant donations to the World Athletics Heritage Collection, which is displayed in MOWA.

Restrepo handed over the pair of spikes that took her to the 1992 Olympic 400m bronze in Barcelona, while El Moutawakel gave the spikes that she wore during the 1984 season, when she won Olympic 400m hurdles gold in Los Angeles.

Plaque of Merits and Veteran Pins received in person

Due to the pandemic, on 17-18 November 2021 the 53rd World Athletics Congress – a biennial gathering of athletics officials that includes the Council, Honorary Members, and up to three representatives from each of the Member Federations – was held virtually, online.

On the second day, Congress granted World Athletics Service Awards. The Plaque of Merit (one per area) and Veteran Pins (three per area) were awarded to 24 individuals who had been recommended by their respective Area Associations.

In Eugene, Coe took the opportunity to present those awards in person to nine of the awardees who are attending the World Athletics Championships Oregon22.

WA Plaque of Merit

Alberto Juantorena Danger – Cuba
Brian Roe – Australia
Marco Luque – Bolivia

Veteran Pin

Tsewang Rinzing – Bhutan
Michael Serralta – Puerto Rico
Maria de la Caridad Colon Ruenes – Cuba
Valerie Adams – New Zealand
Ximena Restrepo – Chile
Dennis MacDonald – Suriname

Chris Turner for World Athletics Heritage