Elite Sports & Culture Week spotlight: Olympian Butch Reynolds

Two-time Olympian Butch Reynolds is a native of Akron and is among the most successful athletes in the world. Reynolds broke the world record in 400m in 1987 and won a gold and silver medal the following year in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. He also competed in the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Butch Reynolds earned his bachelor’s degree in education in 1991 from The Ohio State University and served as an assistant track coach at OSU from 1996 to 1998. He actively is involved with Butch Reynolds Speed Academy and Butch Reynolds Care for Kids Foundation in Columbus.

Reynolds holds numerous records and victories, including winning the NCAA title in Baton Rouge, 1993 World Indoor title; Outdoor 4x400m gold medals (1987, ’93, ’95); two World Outdoor 400m silvers (’93, ’95) and the 1987 World Outdoor 400m bronze medal.

The key to success, Reynolds said, “involves a strong mindset, determination, and focus.” He believes that being able to focus on the aspects that are important is the main factor that separates champions from the rest of the field. Reynolds believes that it is important to ask yourself every day, “What are you going to focus that energy on?” Reynolds also believes that attitude toward your family and friends every morning influences your daily appearance. Keeping values strong can help in success “because sometimes, when being at the very top, it might get lonely,” Reynolds admits.

When asked about the feeling of winning the Olympic Gold medal, Reynolds said, “No matter who you are, the experience and the sensation is unforgettable. Competing in Olympics felt like a one-in-a-million opportunity.”

The only feeling Reynolds suggested that can resemble anything close to winning the Olympic medal and setting a world record is the feeling of being a father. His wife and two children remain his primary support system. Reynolds said the opportunities life as an Olympian has given him has included traveling across the globe to meet presidents, kings and queens of different countries. In the United States, he has met President Ronald Reagan, the Bush family and President Bill Clinton.

When reminiscing about what he did with any spare time while in different Olympic host cities, Reynolds admits the main priority was to rest his body. He remembers reading a lot of books and occupying himself by doing 5000-word crossword puzzles, saying “We did not have Netflix back when I was competing!”

After winning the Olympic Gold, Reynolds was welcomed back home in Akron with a parade.

Reynolds discusses the significant amount of differences between the Olympics now and when he first competed 30 years ago. From the financial aspect, athletes used to receive $500-$1,000 per race, where currently the pay for the race is $100,000-$150,000. Another aspect is in regards to illegal substance use. Reynolds can say with a confidence that track and field is becoming a cleaner sport and new records are set legally. When asked about the ban on the team Russia and its participation in the 2018 Olympics in Rio, Reynolds said that as long as these athletes are tested and approved, they should be allowed to participate as individuals under the Russian flag. He understands the rights of athletes and the rights of the International Olympic Committee Federation, therefore, he believes the decision of banning Russia as a team seems right, as long as clean athletes can participate individually.

Reynolds is writing a book about the thrill of victory and adversity. In the book, he expands on how it felt when he was an Olympian and the light was shining really bright vs. what changed in his life when the light went dim.

Reynolds ultimate goals in professional life involve creating a school with the No. 1 track and field program in the nation. Reynolds wants to give back and is doing so by managing his Speed Academy and Butch Reynolds Care for Kids Foundation. Reynolds advocates to “get into the habit of always staying focused and doing your best!”

Butch Reynolds will be among the 20-plus athletes and coaches, including Olympians and Paralympians, who will be in the Tiffin area October 23-25 for Elite Sport and Culture Week hosted by Tiffin University, Mercy Hospital, National Machinery, LLC and Terra State Community College.

For more information on Elite Sport & Culture and to learn how to meet Reynolds and the other Olympians, visit tiffin.edu/elite or Facebook ESCWeek.

— by Tiffin University student Linda Dobele