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January 28, 2009 > Willie Davenport Olympian Clinic returns to Union City

Willie Davenport Olympian Clinic returns to Union City

By Anthony Lynch

Athletes of all ages will have a special opportunity on Saturday, Feb. 7th, to learn from world-class track and field competitors, named the best at their sport at the 23rd Annual Willie Davenport Olympian Clinic.

Taking place at James Logan High School in Union City, the annual event draws as many as 1,500 students a year where they gain a valuable opportunity to train and garner insight from some former Olympic athletes, as well as notable current Olympian coaches.

The event will be run by Coach Lee Webb, head of Logan High School's track and field program. He first started the event in 1987, after he contacted some of his Olympian friends, and invited them to participate. Since then, the event has taken off in the track and field community.

Most of the Olympians who participate are athletes that competed at the 1968-1988 games. "The athletes back then competed because they loved track and field and were fully dedicated to the sport. It wasn't about money," said Webb. "They had no extra things like athletes do now. So it's harder to get the younger Olympians- they expect big bucks."

Still the chance to rub elbows and gain tutelage from some of the world's most talented athletes is one that should interest anyone with a passion for the sport.

Though this will be the 23rd year the event has taken place, this version of "Olympians Week" will be a scaled-down effort taking place on only February 6 and 7, instead of the usual full week. Like it has on just about everything else, the rugged economy has taken its toll on funding, which has resulted in a lack of the usual financial support needed to run the event. Coach Webb expressed disappointment about this and noted that as a result, the event was nearly cancelled.

Given the financial limitations, the athlete roster this year will have a particular focus on local competitors, as the traveling costs to bring in high-profile athletes from outside the area could not be justified. Notable names of athletes scheduled to appear this year include Dick Fosbury, Stephanie Brown, Ray Norton, Billy Mills, Karen Smith, Renaldo Brown, Ron Whitney, Andre Phillips and Mike Louisiana. New to the event this year will be an appearance by professional entertainer, Crazy George.

For the Clinic, registration will run from 8 to 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 7, and the event itself will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost is $25 and includes track and field information, a bag lunch and, most importantly, the opportunity to learn from more than 50 Olympic coaches and athletes.

To Webb, it's important to use this opportunity to inspire young athletes. "We want to fire them up to achieve great things," he said. Given the passion and dedication he has for the sport, it is no surprise that his team, the Logan Colts, have such an impressive track record for success in the history of their track and field program.

Four James Logan athletes have been selected for the World Youth Team since 2002, and several more have won events at the national level. It's not a stretch to believe that Olympic stars will eventually be developed in this program as well. Much loved by team members for his devotion and energy, Webb's motto is simply: "You must believe to achieve."

More information on the event can be found at www.logantrackandfield.com. To contact Coach Webb with questions, or to lend support to the event, call 510-304-7172, or e-mail him at lee_webb@nhusd.k12.ca.us.

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