Connect with us

More Sports

George Kerr was an NCAA Champion and an Olympian



George Kerr
1961 Press Photo George Kerr broke world & American record for 1000 yard run (UPI)

This installment features legendary Illinois Track and Field Star George Kerr. In September, he and 11 other athletes will be inducted into the Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame.

George Kerr’s track and field career is somewhat ironic. Jamaica is traditionally known for its elite sprinters. Kerr became one of the most decorated Track and Field athletes in his country’s history. He was a middle-distance runner, specializing in the 400 and 880 meters.

George Kerr, the NCAA and Olympic Champion

George Kerr won back-to-back NCAA Championships in 1959 (880y) and 1960 (800m) and was a seven-time Big Ten champion in middle distances (3 in 800m, 2 in 400m, and 2 in the 4x400m relay). Afterward, he focused on the Olympic games. At the Rome Games, Kerr won the Olympic Bronze medal in the 800m and 4x400m relay while competing for the British West Indies in 1960.

In 1962, he became the first Jamaican athlete to have the national flag flown in recognition of winning a gold medal when he won double gold in the 400m and 800m at the Central American and Caribbean Games held in Kingston. At the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, representing Jamaica, Kerr finished fourth in both the 800m and the 4x400m relay.

Kerr broke the Olympic record for the 800m in the semifinals. He lost the bronze by less than one-tenth of a second. He also won gold in the 400m and 4x400m relay at the 1959 Pan American Games. Kerr was named the 1962 Jamaican Sportsman of the Year. He died in 2012.

The University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics named 12 new members to the UI Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2023, including athletes and coaches from nine teams. This is the seventh Hall of Fame class. It includes two Olympic medalists, members of their sport’s national hall of fame, national champions, high professional draft picks, a Super Bowl champion, and a national record holder for more than 70 years. 

Armchair Illini is a comprehensive site dedicated to covering University of Illinois Athletics owned and operated by Alex Kyi. Dante Pryor has been writing about College Football for years on Saturday Blitz and is now the Lead Football Author for Armchair Illini.