*Capturing the story of Kevin Young, Olympian and World Record Holder of the Men’s 400 Meter hurdles for nearly 29 years is quite typical of an American story where a guy from the neighborhood works hard, pushes his limits and becomes a world champ.
This one for me however, is personal. I know this guy and can not only attest to his athleticism but to his great character and kind spirit as a human being. The 46.78 Olympic record set on August 6, 1992 in Barcelona, Spain, which shattered Edwin Moses’ long standing record of 47.02 has now been shadowed by the outstanding performances of Karsten Warholm from Norway at 45.94, Rai Benjamin from the USA at 46.17 and Alison dos Santos from Brazil at 46.72. Then there was the breaking of the world record on July 1st by Warholm at the Bislettt Stadium in Oslo, Norway when he finished the hurdles event at 46.70.
The champion from the USA who has held the throne of the 400 meter hurdles for so long now takes another rank in history. Of course Kevin Young’s story is not an anomaly, records are made to be broken and on August 2nd 2021 during the XXXII Olympiad Warhlom hurdled to victory.
This was Kevin Young’s first response: “I had a great run. I have no regrets.”
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EURweb.com caught up with the man named the 2006 Track and Field Hall of Famer in Zuriig, Switzerland, where he is currently completing studies for a Masters Degree in Sports Ethics.
EURweb: Describe the past 29 years of being the World Record Holder and Olympic Record Holder of the Men’s 400 meter Hurdles?
Kevin Young: It has been humbling because I know that it could have been broken years ago. Yet it stood as the benchmark for the event for so many years. Many people never related to the time because of either their lack of interest in the sport or interest in the event except for when the Olympics came around, but I have enjoyed educating them throughout the years.
EURweb: What was the best part?
Kevin Young: Being from Watts and telling my story and meeting so many of my Olympic heroes, and expressing this feeling with others about what it meant to me. How my connection to the numbers (4678) has evolved into its own story. I have been able to reflect on my life through those numbers.
EURweb: What was the most challenging part?
Kevin Young: Allowing myself to come out of my comfort zone, which can be challenging for many, especially young black men. At times we are marginalized to become comfortable subconsciously through profiling, bullying, false senses of bravado, and other ways to where we fail to truly represent ourselves. I have always fought this. Growing up in L.A. as it morphed into a sort of police state for young blacks being preyed upon by the policing authorities as well as the gangs, it became a cycle of trying to maneuver the streets for your own safety and survival yet continue to find respect for one another regardless of the circumstances.
EURweb: When did you anticipate that your record would finally be broken?
Kevin Young: When Angelo Taylor started to reign as the world’s best hurdler prior to 2000, then a young Kerron Clement came onto the scene. Neither one of those gentlemen broke the record, although I felt that they possessed the talent and ability to do so. Then around 2018 Abderrahman Samba became the second hurdler to run under 47 seconds (46.98). Then in 2019 Rai Benjamin, and Karsten Warholm both raced under 47 seconds. Rai came in at 46.98 and Warholm came in at 46.92 seconds. I have been anticipating this for a while, but I have been fortunate for my record to to last 7 Olympiads.
EURweb: What advice would you give to the new record holder and future challengers?
Kevin Young: Push your limits, enjoy the time, and remember to create relationships among your competitors because there is a shelf-life in sports.
EURweb: What advice do you have for all first time Olympic medalists?
Kevin Young: Enjoy the moment, reach out to younger athletes, and be positive, yet humble. And keep a diary of it all.
EURweb: How does it feel to still be recognized as a legend?
Kevin Young: It seems a bit new still, because folks have always considered Edwin Moses as the legend of the sport before considering me. But I embrace my journey, which helps me be more expressive about being referred to as a legend.
EURweb: Tell us about your current studies in Switzerland.
Kevin Young: I came here because I was planning a move to Germany from Belgium for the third semester in Mainz, Germany. Switzerland was to have been a friendly layover but COVID caused me to remain here because Germany went into lockdown mode because of the alarming increase in cases there. And since classes were online, it was just easier for me to be stationary and learn remotely.
I got into an Erasmus program for international studies. I did not know these existed, but was fortunate to read an email provided to me from Sharrieffa Barksdale about an opportunity and I respond to it. I initially didn’t get funded, but became a candidate and was on the top of a short list to either accept the scholarship or deny it. The opportunity came during a turning point in my life so I decided to go for it. I put everything in storage, travelled overseas and started this new chapter. The mission was 5-6 different European College campuses with international experts and scholars teaching the course in Sports Ethics and Integrity. It initially started off at Swansea University in Wales, but quickly moved out of the U.K, because of their BREXIT from the European Union.
However, before the end of the first semester in 2019 I survived a near fatal bus accident that claimed the life of a passenger seated next to me. I suffered a head laceration and concussion. This ended up affecting my sleep and studying habits, but I made it through, moving to Belgium for the second semester. Then COVID-19 took over and all travel and close contact came to an abrupt stop for us all, and classes went online. I made it through by prayer and faith. Like I mentioned before, the third semester was to have been in Mainz, so I ended up staying in Switzerland.
Through it all I was able to complete my Masters thesis and defense, and I am now awaiting graduation in September of 2021 back in Belgium from KULEUVEN or Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. It is a Catholic research university in the city of Leuven, Belgium and recognized as one of the top European universities in the world.
EURweb: Describe the moment when you witnessed not one but both or your records broken in 2021?
Kevin Young: July first was the day in which Karsten Warholm broke the existing 28 year old world record. I was watching the racing after talking with a Norwegian journalist friend of mine about a few days earlier. For me there were no surprises just witnessing a great athlete and race in Oslo. I was able to Facetime him after the victory and congratulate the new World record holder. Of course I witnessed the Olympic record go down while watching the games. It was even more impressive not because of Karsten’s sub 46 second performance of 45.94 but the times from the field of athletes. I went from 2nd all-time to 4th all-time in that single race.
EURweb: What words did you exchange with Karsten Warholm?
Kevin Young: That I enjoyed his hard work and effort and commitment to the hurdles, and thanks for helping me remain relevant after almost 30 years. And I also let him know that I am always around to chat, and to thank his coach for me on an outstanding job.
EURweb: How can fans keep in touch with you?
Kevin Young: @hurdlegreat4678 (Twitter and Instagram)
Kevin Young OLY-Facebook
EURweb: What’s next for Kevin Young?
Kevin Young: Athletic apparel merchandising, writing for FXQ magazine, and learning more for sure. I may target some type of grassroots marketing with merchandising. And finally get to that book that you have told me to write some 29 years ago.
Kevin Young was the winner of the 1st Espy Award in Track and Field in 1993. He is an alum on UCLA and LA’s Jordan High School. Kevin has since spent his years on and off the track inspiring young athletes and youth in general to pursue education and excellence in all of their goals.
EURweb salutes all Olympic athletes and winners around the world. And yes, we’ve got special love for the home team from USA. Click here for a list of the Tokyo 2020/2021 Olympic medalists.
LaRita “Jazzy Rita” Shelby is a writer & entertainer and Director of Digital Strategy & Sales for EURweb.com, newly branded Everything Urban & Radioscope. Winner of MIMPA’S 2020 Entertainment Journalist of the Year Award & Proud member of Sigma Gamma Rho. LaRita is the author of The Brand Beside the Brand and On My Father’s Side. Chat, swap ideas & vision at [email protected]