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Willie Banks

Photo of Willie Banks

Inducted: 1999, athlete

Born: March 11, 1956 - Travis Air Force Base, California

Triple Jump - 17.97 m

One of the greatest triple jumpers ever produced by the United States, Willie Banks had his best moment on June 16, 1985 when he set a world record of 58' 11 1/2" at the national championships in Indianapolis, Ind. That was the highlight of a career that started in Oceanside, Calif. After graduating from high school, Banks attended UCLA and was twice runner-up in the NCAA Championships. It was after college that he achieved his greatest success, setting his first American record in 1981 by jumping 56' 7 3/4" and improving that record six more times -- by more than 2 feet -- before he was through. A four-time AAU champion, Banks represented the U.S. in 18 international competitions and was a member of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic teams. He captured a silver medal as a member of the U.S. team at the 1983 World Championships and was also a member of the 1987 World Championship team. After graduating from UCLA, Banks went on to the university's law school. During this period, he became known as the "Bouncing Barrister." He popularized the triple jump by encouraging the crowd to clap as he prepared for his run-up and by engaging spectators during a meet. In 1985, Banks was the Track & Field News and U.S. Olympic Committee Athlete of the Year. He also served USATF as chair of the Athletes Advisory Committee in addition to serving as organization vice president.

Records Held
World Record: Triple Jump - 17.97 m (June 16, 1985 - )
American Record: Triple Jump - 17.27 m

1984 Olympics: Triple Jump (6th)
1988 Olympics: Triple Jump (6th)
1983 World Championships: Triple Jump (2nd)
1987 World Championships: Triple Jump
1985 National Championships: Triple Jump - 17.97 m (1st)

high school: Oceanside (Calif.) High School (Oceanside, California), 1974
undergraduate: UCLA (Los Angeles, California), 1978


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