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USATF to honor Johnson, Samuelson, Diamond at Black Tie & Sneakers Gala


NEW YORK – USATF Hall of Fame icons Michael Johnson and Joan Benoit Samuelson and NBC Olympic executive Peter Diamond will headline USA Track & Field’s Black Tie & Sneakers Gala as special honorees, USATF announced Tuesday.


USATF will honor Johnson and Samuelson with the USATF Legacy Award, while Diamond receives the USATF Lifetime Achievement Award.


A red-carpet evening that will include the induction of the National Track & Field Hall of Fame Class of 2015, USATF’s Black Tie & Sneakers Gala will be held Thursday, October 29 at the Armory Track & Field Center in New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood. Legendary athletes, business executives, current USATF stars and celebrities from sports and entertainment will be on hand for the first-of-its-kind event. The evening includes an opening reception, dinner, the USATF Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and after party. Guests will walk the red carpet in black ties and sneakers, giving the night a USATF twist on athletic elegance and excellence.


The National Track & Field Hall of Fame Class of 2015 will be announced Sept. 15.


“With Joan Benoit Samuelson, Michael Johnson and Peter Diamond, we are thrilled to have three of the biggest names in the Olympic movement be such an important part of the Gala,” USATF CEO Max Siegel said. “It is a reminder that an individual’s recognition doesn’t end after they are inducted into the Hall of Fame. Our sport continues to honor and celebrate our contributors, on and off the track.”


Two of the greatest athletes in Olympic history, Samuelson and Johnson will receive the USATF Legacy Award to mark historical achievements by Hall of Fame athletes and their continued contributions to the sport. Both athletes achieved historic success in Olympic Games held on U.S. soil.


Making history for winning the first Olympic gold medal in the women’s marathon at the Los Angeles Olympics of 1984, Joan Benoit Samuelson’s legacy in the sport is unmatched. She was ranked #1 in the world in the marathon on two occasions and is a former world and U.S. record holder in that event. In addition to the Olympic Games, her major victories included wins at the Boston and Chicago Marathons. Still competitive in road racing, Samuelson qualified for and competed in the 2008 Olympic Trials Marathon, at age 50. Perhaps most significantly, with her tireless advocacy, speaking engagements and public appearances, Samuelson has been the country’s most high-profile advocate for distance running, and especially women’s running, for more than 30 years.


The unquestioned star of the 1996 Olympic Games, Michael Johnson in 2016 will celebrate the 20th anniversary of his double-gold performance in Atlanta. During the 1996 season, Johnson twice broke the world record in the 200 meters – first at the Olympic Trials (19.68) and then in a stunning Olympic final, when he shocked the world with his 19.32 seconds. It was a record that would stand until 2008. He added gold in the 400m in Atlanta as well, making him and his golden spikes the star of the Games. The greatest 200/400m runner in history, his 400m world record of 43.18 from 1999 still stands. His athletic legacy includes four Olympic gold medals and eight IAAF World Championships medals – he never won anything but gold in either competition. Since retiring, Johnson has been active as a broadcaster, athlete representative and business owner.


A lifelong track enthusiast and 15-time Emmy Award winner, Peter Diamond will receive USATF’s Lifetime Achievement Award. As Senior Vice President, Programming, NBC Olympics, he is responsible for programming NBC’s coverage of the Olympic Games and Olympic Trials. The 2016 Games in Rio will be his 17th Olympics – more than any broadcast network executive in television history. Diamond started his career as ABC Sports’ Olympics researcher for Montreal and Innsbruck in 1976. He originally joined NBC as an associate producer in 1977, with an emphasis on track and field research. After six years with ABC, he returned to NBC in 1986. Among his Emmy Awards is recognition for his work at the 1999 IAAF World Championships in Seville. Privately, Diamond maintains a collection of Olympic and track and field literature that makes him one of the top collectors in the world.


Proceeds from the USATF Black Tie & Sneakers Gala go to the USATF Elite Athlete Mentorship Program. A new USATF initiative, our Mentorship Program connects USATF elite athletes with business executives, former athletes and career coaches to prepare our athletes for success after their competitive careers conclude.


For more information on the USATF Black Tie & Sneakers Gala, including ticket information, visit

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