Track and field athletes from the St. Louis area showed up and showed out at last week’s Pan-American Games in Lima, Peru.
Teenage sensation Justin Robinson of Hazelwood West continued his tremendous run of success that has gone to heights that no other high school track athlete in St. Louis has ever reached.
Robinson’s brilliant run continued as he brought home a couple of medals from this prestigious international event. Robinson earned a bronze medal in the men’s 400-meter dash in a time of 45.0 seconds.
Robinson then won a silver medal as a part of the USA men’s 4x400-meter relay. The young phenom was the star of the relay team as he turned in a spectacular 43.5-second split on the third leg to bring the USA from a distant third place to the lead when he handed off the baton for the final leg.
It was just a few months ago that Robinson was finishing up his junior year by leading Hazelwood West to the Missouri Class 5 state championship, which was the first in the school’s history. From there, he followed up with one stellar performance after another on the national circuit, culminating in his double-medal winning performance in his first big international meet against seasoned professionals. This has been truly remarkable as Robinson is just 17 years old.
Mike Rodgers wins gold
Former Berkeley High star Mike Rodgers is a veteran on the international track and field scene and he won a gold medal in the men’s 100-meter dash. Rodgers also anchored the USA men’s 4x100-meter relay team to a bronze medal.
After a great prep career at Berkeley and stellar collegiate career at Lindenwood University and Oklahoma City, Rodgers has enjoyed a very productive career on the international circuit for more than a decade.
Gwen Berry wins throw, raises fist
Another gold medalist from North County was former McCluer High girls standout Gwen Berry, who won the women’s hammer throw with an effort of 244 feet and 9 inches. She is the current American record holder in the event.
Berry’s gold-medal winning performance in the hammer throw was just the beginning of the story. While on the medal stand, Berry raised her right fist in the air during the playing of the national anthem, evoking memories of the iconic moment during the 1968 Mexico City Olympics when USA sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists during the medal ceremony after the 200-meter dash. Berry was taking a stand against injustice in America and, in her words, “a president who’s making it worse.”
“It’s too important to not say something,” Berry told USA Today. “Something had to be said. If nothing is said, nothing will be done and nothing will be fixed, and nothing will be changed.”
Berry was one of two American athletes who used the platform of the Pan-Am Games medal stand to make their statement in protest. The other was fencer Race Imboden, who took a knee on the medal stand after winning a gold medal in the Team Fencing and bronze medal as an individual.