Rhonda Blanford – 1985

She missed the 100-meter hurdles finals by 1/100th of a second at the 1984 Olympic Trials. Disappointing? Yes. Discouraging? No, at least not for this University of Nebraska standard-bearer, who raced on to glory in 1985.

Serving notice she was still in the chase for Seoul in 1988, the former Aurora Central standout

captured her fourth consecutive Big Eight indoor hurdles crown with a 1985 world-best clocking of 7.44 seconds, the third-best time ever for 60 meters. She then added NCAA honors with a 7.57.

Switching from six barriers indoors to 10 outdoors, the Cornhusker team captain kicked up her pace, annexing five 100-meter invitational titles in five different states before donning the Big 8 crown. En route, she set a Nebraska school record and left three Olympians in her dust.

Rhonda’s victorious 12.70-second time in the NCAA Outdoor Finals was the fastest-ever by an American but was ruled wind-aided. Onward she went to The Athletics Congress (TAC) Nationals and a 12.85 triumph that not only was the fastest by an American in 1985 but also 9th fastest in the world. Completing her itinerary was a winning National Sports Festival stop and command performances in Japan and Germany as No. 1 hurdler on the USA Team.

She’s now Rhonda Blanford-Green, but her agenda remains the same. Since leaving Nebraska, where she was undefeated in Big Eight indoor and outdoor hurdles, the SWC Hall of Famer has given Olympic and NCAA clinics at home and abroad, coached volleyball and track and field, taught coaching theory and currently is an assistant commissioner with the Colorado High School Activities Association.

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