Three-time Olympic gold medalist Steve Lewis, Olympic and World Championships silver medalist Sandra Farmer-Patrick, former world record holder and two-time Olympic bronze medalist John Powell and Atoms Track Club founder and coach Fred Thompson were inducted into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame last month.

 “These esteemed athletes and the late coach Fred Thompson have exemplified the best our sport has to offer,” said USATF CEO Max Siegel. “USA Track & Field is honored to recognize them for their achievements, dedication and service.”
Modern Athletes
Before he even turned 20, Steve Lewis' name was already etched in the track and field history books. After a freshman year at UCLA that included Pac-10 and NCAA silver medals in the 400 meters, Lewis finished third in the Olympic Trials in Indianapolis to earn his spot on the U.S. team to compete at Seoul.
Winning his heat, quarterfinal and semifinal in Seoul, Lewis lined up for a final that featured world record holder Butch Reynolds, who had set that mark in Zurich a month earlier and had also won the Trials, and a familiar face -- Lewis' UCLA teammate, Danny Everett.
From the gun in the final, Lewis moved to the lead and coming off the final turn he held a half-stride margin over Everett. Reynolds closed with a mad dash to overtake Everett on the run to the line, but Lewis held both men off for the gold and stopped the clock at 43.87, .01 off the world record set by Lee Evans at Mexico City in 1968, but easily a world junior (U20) record. It was the fourth time in 1988 that Lewis broke the world junior record and he is still the youngest man ever to win the 400m at the Games.
Lewis added to his gold medal collection on the 4x400m relay, running the second leg with Everett leading off, Kevin Robinzine handling third leg and Reynolds anchoring. That quartet won by more than four seconds in 2:56.16, equaling the world record set by the U.S. team in '68.
After winning NCAA and U.S. titles in 1990, Lewis had one more taste of Olympic glory. At Barcelona in 1992, Lewis anchored the 4x400 to a world record 2:55.74 with a 43.5 split and took silver in the 400m in 44.21.
Injuries and illness curtailed Lewis' career after Barcelona, but his legacy was already set. Inducted into the UCLA Hall of Fame in 2004, Lewis currently works for Stryker, a medical device and equipment manufacturing company. He and his wife, Tamala, have two daughters -- Ashley, who ran track at UCLA, and Sienna.
One of a select group of athletes to have represented two nations in the Olympic Games, Sandra Farmer-Patrick excelled for her native Jamaica before making the decision to switch to the United States after marrying American hurdler David Patrick in January 1988.
Farmer set an American Junior record of 58.90 in the 400m hurdles at age 14, which ranked her number five amongst all Americans. Olympic Games finalist in the 400m hurdles for Jamaica at Los Angeles in '84, Farmer-Patrick added a fourth-place finish at the World Championships in Rome in 1987, just missing a medal. Already having competed at the U.S. Championships seven times by that point, Farmer-Patrick's decision was not difficult. She told Track & Field News, "I live, think, eat and drink American. I feel like an American, so it makes more sense for me to try and represent the U.S."
She roared in 1989 to win the U.S. title as well as the Grand Prix final and the World Cup, and she and husband David became the first husband/wife combo to win national titles in 25 years. Farmer-Patrick set the first two of her three American records that summer, 53.75 to win the TAC crown in Houston, and then 53.37 at New York City in late July, she was unbeaten in the 400m hurdles and was the fastest woman in the world at the event.
Fourth at the '91 World Championships in Tokyo, Farmer-Patrick won another Grand Prix crown and set the stage for the next two seasons. She won the '92 Trials in New Orleans by more than a second in 53.62 before racing to silver in Barcelona in 53.69.
Cruising to an easy win at the USATF Championships in Eugene in '93, Farmer-Patrick headed to Stuttgart for the World Championships hoping to avenge her Olympic loss to Britain's Sally Gunnell. Speeding through the race at the fastest pace of her life, Farmer-Patrick smashed the American record with a 52.79, inside the world record and the first American to run under 53 seconds, but Gunnell's late-race charge pushed her across the line first in a world-record 52.74.
Taking a break in 1994 to give birth to a daughter, Sierra, Farmer-Patrick returned to the track and qualified for one more Olympic Games, making the semifinal in Atlanta in '96. In 1997, she returned to school to complete her master’s degree and gave birth to her son David Marquis Patrick in 1998. She retired with three world No. 1 rankings and six U.S. No. 1 rankings to her credit, along with three American records and a pair of Olympic and World Championships silver medals. Since retirement in 2001, Farmer-Patrick continues to spend time serving within USATF, in a sport that’s given her so much.
Veteran Athlete
During one of the great eras of discus throwing, John Powell was a constant presence in the world and American rankings. A three-time Olympian who won bronze in 1976 and '84, Powell would have made four Olympic teams if not for the U.S. boycott in '80. Displaying incredible longevity at the elite level, Powell earned World Championships silver in 1987 at age 40, 15 years after his first Olympic experience, a fourth-place effort in '72.
Powell was 13 times ranked in the world top 10 from 1972-87, topped by a No. 2 spot in '74. He earned 19 U.S. top 10 nods from 1969-88, ranking No. 1 five times. A U.S. champion seven times, including five in a row from 1983-87, Powell won the Olympic Trials in 1984. In 1975 he won the Pan American Games gold.
Smallish in a world of giants, the 6-2, 240-pound Powell was a San Jose City policeman from 1971-77. His rivalry with fellow American throwing ace Mac Wilkins produced a long series of big throws by the two men, who traded national golds along with verbal barbs that spiced up the rivalry.
In 1975, Powell set a world record of 69.08m/226-8 on May 4 in Long Beach, but his longest throw came on June 9, 1984 when he whipped the discus out to 71.26m/233-9, still the second-longest throw in American history. That mark ranks him as the 10th best performer in world history.
Powell coached at Stanford University in the 1980s, guiding Carol Cady to an American record in the women's discus in 1986. He also produced coaching videos that emphasized drills important in establishing consistent technique and hosted a series of throwing camps.
A pioneer in girls and women's track and field, the late Fred Thompson spent more than 50 years as founder and director of the Atoms TC and the Colgate Women's Games. At a time when girls were overlooked and often had few or no options to train and compete in New York City, Thompson established a club that allowed them to not only develop athletically, but more importantly as people.
Thompson started the Atoms TC in 1963 and over the years he produced a slew of top-flight athletes, including Diane Dixon, who won 11 U.S. Indoor titles in the 400m/440y and Olympic gold in '84 on the U.S. 4x400m relay. Cheryl Toussaint won silver on the 4x400 at Munich in ‘72, and Jamaican Grace Jackson earned silver in the 200m at the Seoul Games, where Thompson was an assistant coach on the Team USATF staff. He also coached Barbadian Lorna Forde to back-to-back American indoor 440y golds in 1976-77.
Thompson was a lawyer by trade and served as Assistant Attorney General for the State of New York from 1967-69. He gave up his law career in 1974 when he founded and became the Meet Director of the Colgate Women's Games, which has become the nation’s largest amateur track series for girls and women. Now in their 46th year, the Games have helped thousands of girls get into and pay for higher education, and produced thousands of age division champions and an astonishing 26 Olympians; but Thompson said he was prouder of the countless individual lives positively affected by their participation.
Like his Atoms TC, Thompson founded the Games to provide an athletic competition that helps participating young girls and women develop a strong sense of personal achievement, self-esteem, and instill the importance of education. Pratt Institute still hosts the Games at their indoor track in Brooklyn, where early on his Atoms TC athletes practiced.
“The Atoms doesn’t really stand for track,” he told The New York Times in 1978. “The Atoms stands for excellence in education, trying to better yourself in this society, and one way to do that is to go to college and get that piece of paper.” Both the club and the Colgate Women’s Games produced countless successful participants who went on to be doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses and entrepreneurs.
As an athlete, Thompson was a star at Boys High School and City College of New York. He was most proud of the accomplishments of his club members off the track.
Thompson died January 22, 2019 at the age of 85 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He was represented by his dear friend and former athlete Lynette Diaz Miller at USATF Night of Legends.

About the National Track & Field Hall of Fame
The National Track & Field Hall of Fame, housed at the Armory Track & Field Center in New York City, is the country’s prestigious Hall of Fame for the sport. An entire list of Hall of Fame members is published online.
About USA Track & Field
USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running, and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, some of the most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the country’s #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States. For more information on USATF, visit www.usatf.org.