Track leg­end Remigino re­mem­bered

Two-time Olympic gold medal­ist, long­time coach dead at 87

The Norwalk Hour - - SPORTS - By Dan Nowak

The Con­necti­cut high school track com­mu­nity lost a leg­end Wed­nes­day when Lindy Remigino, a two-time gold medal win­ner at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and a Hart­ford Pub­lic boys track star and long­time coach, passed away at the age of 87 af­ter a two-year bat­tle with pan­cre­atic can­cer.

Remigino made his mark in the sport in­ter­na­tion­ally, but he also made an im­pact and long-last­ing im­pres­sion among high school track coaches, in­clud­ing Gary Moore of Hill­house and for­mer Amity track coach Thom Ja­cobs.

They all agreed Remigino was a fierce com­peti­tor, an ex­cep­tional per­son and gen­tle­man and put Con­necti­cut track on the map.

“He’s the bench­mark, the gold stan­dard, of coach­ing in the his­tory of the state, be­cause of the to­tal pack­age that he was. He was a great ath­lete — ob­vi­ously, an Olympic gold medal­ist, you can’t do bet­ter than that — he was a leg­endary coach in all three sea­sons (cross coun­try and in­door and out­door track and field), and he was a great am­bas­sador for the sport. He was very hum­ble, and he was a re­ally good men­tor to his kids and to the coaches who came af­ter him,” Dan­bury coach Rob Mur­ray said.

Moore was un­aware of Remigino’s death.

“I am so sorry to hear that, I knew Lindy re­ally well and we talked all the time,” Moore said. “He loved the sport so much. He loved meet­ing coaches and shar­ing knowl­edge with them. I am the coach I am to­day be­cause of what I learned from him. Shar­ing

things with other coaches to make ev­ery­one get bet­ter and im­prove was im­por­tant to him.

“He was well re­spected, car­ried him­self as a gen­tle­man and as a pro­fes­sional in the sport. I al­ways sup­ported him for the things he did for track in the state. He asked my help when they were con­sid­er­ing an in­door fa­cil­ity at Hart­ford Pub­lic and I didn’t hes­i­tate. I wrote a let­ter of sup­port.”

Moore and Ja­cobs both agreed that in ad­di­tion to Remigino’s suc­cess as a run­ner and win­ning 31 state cham­pi­onships as a coach, an­other im­por­tant mile­stone was the cre­ation of the Hart­ford Pub­lic In­vi­ta­tional. It de­vel­oped into a ma­jor event in the re­gion, run­ning from 1970-2010 ac­cord­ing the Hart­ford Courant.

“In 1970 Lindy cre­ated, or­ga­nized and ran the Hart­ford Pub­lic In­vi­ta­tional, which was great for the sport in Con­necti­cut,” Moore said. “It be­came more than just a lo­cal meet, draw­ing teams from all

over the re­gion. Ev­ery­one looked for­ward to com­pet­ing in that meet be­cause of the strong com­pe­ti­tion and top com­peti­tors that it drew.”

Ja­cobs did not mince words when dis­cussing Remigino.

“I loved Lindy,” said Ja­cobs, who re­signed as Amity track coach in 2015 af­ter 29 years in the po­si­tion. “I was 22 when I started coach­ing and it was a lit­tle in­tim­i­dat­ing for me when I first met him. He was a great ath­lete, a leg­endary coach and an in­tense com­peti­tor. But it didn’t take long for me to re­al­ize what an all-around great per­son he was.

“He was friendly and af­fa­ble and he al­ways wel­comed ques­tions from you. He was a huge fig­ure in the sport and we all looked up to him. Think­ing about Lindy I also think about (the late) Irv Black. They were two icons in the sport and the two of them made Con­necti­cut spe­cial in the sport. I re­mem­ber they had some fierce his­tor­i­cal bat­tles as high school coaches.”

Black was a long­time New Bri­tain High track coach.

Ja­cobs said the Hart­ford Pub­lic In­vi­ta­tional was one of Remigino’s many con­tri­bu­tions to the sport in Con­necti­cut.

“New Eng­land gets lost some­times in the track world be­cause of our cold weather and the fact we can’t com­pete year round like they can in a place like Texas,” Ja­cobs said. “But Lindy changed that a bit with the Hart­ford Pub­lic In­vi­ta­tional. It not only drew teams from New Eng­land, it drew teams from the en­tire East­ern seaboard.

“Kids talked all year about com­pet­ing in that meet. It was an honor for these kids to com­pete and the level of com­pe­ti­tion was tremen­dous. The other draw for these kids was every win­ner re­ceived a Hart­ford Pub­lic watch. It was an honor to get one of those watches.”

In 1952, Remigino made his mark on the world stage win­ning the 100-me­ter dash and run­ning a leg of the win­ning 4x100 re­lay at the Helsinki Olympics. He is a mem­ber of the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame.

As­so­ci­ated Press file photo

Lindy Remigino, cen­ter, dis­plays the medal he re­ceived af­ter win­ning the 100-me­ter fi­nal at the Sum­mer Olympics in Helsinki in 1952.

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