Steve Prefontaine Biography

Athlete, Track and Field Athlete(1951–1975)
Steve Prefontaine is best known as the runner who once held the U.S. record in every long-distance event. He died in a car crash in 1975 at age 24.

Synopsis

Steve Prefontaine is an American athlete born on January 25, 1951, in Coos Bay, Oregon. One of America's greatest runners, Prefontaine once held the U.S. record in every long-distance event from the 2,000 meters to the 10,000 meters. He narrowly missed a medal at the 1972 Munich Olympics. He was training for the 1976 Montreal Olympics when he died in a car accident on May 30, 1975, at age 24.

Early Life

Runner Steve Roland Prefontaine was born on January 25, 1951, in Coos Bay, Oregon. Widely considered one of the greatest American runners of all time, Prefontaine once held the U.S. record in every long-distance event from the 2,000 meters to the 10,000 meters. He attended Marshfield High School, where he set a national high school record in the two-mile race and broke 19 national high school records in track.

Record Breaking Accomplishment

Prefontaine attended the University of Oregon where he trained under legendary coach Bill Bowerman. Pre, as he was called by his fans, won three Division I NCAA Cross Country championships and four straight three-mile titles. It was while at the University of Oregon that Prefontaine earned a reputation for his aggressive front-running racing style, going out hard and not relinquishing the lead. He soon became a legend not only in his native Oregon, but nationwide, appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated at age 19.

Untimely Death

After narrowly missing a medal at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Prefontaine returned to the University of Oregon to finish his collegiate career, undefeated. He then set his sights on the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. Tragically, he was killed in a car crash on May 30, 1975 at age 24.

Even after his death, Steve Prefontaine remained an icon in the running world. During his short career, he ran 153 races and won 120 of them. He is at least partially responsible for inspiring the running boom during the 1970s, and several movies have been made documenting his life.

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