Last Thursday, track and field legend Carl Lewis was named the new coach of the University of Houston track and field team. The nine-time Olympic gold medalist will work alongside the team’s new director, Will Blackburn, per the Houston Chronicle. They outlined Lewis’ role as centered in the scope of head coaching, specifically in his area of expertise with sprinting and jumps.
He described the separation of jobs with Blackburn as odd but perfect, “[Blackburn is] the nuts and bolts on what’s going on, and I’m driving the car.”
Blackburn’s responsibilities would predominantly focus on everyday obligations, long jumps, and throwing events.
“It’s a weird arrangement,” Lewis admitted, “I agree with that to a certain extent from the outside looking in, but it’s a perfect relationship from the inside looking out,” It’s a partnership that Blackburn agrees with entirely, believing the split to be for the best. He told the outlet, “If I’m in the passenger seat, I’m fine with that. Carl drives a little fast. I think that’s in his blood.”
The University of Houston’s Track and Field website commemorated the change in management with a statement from the Houston Vice President for Athletics. “Will [Blackburn] and Carl [Lewis] are both incredible representatives and products of the University of Houston, Houston Athletics and our track and field programs,” Chris Pezman said. “I am personally grateful for their leadership during this transitionary time. We are fortunate to have individuals of their caliber leading our program, with Will doing so on the day-to-day side and Carl as head coach. They are two of the very best in the country.”
Lewis was incredibly talented in his time competing for the Cougars himself. According to the UH Cougars, Lewis competed for them from 1979 to 1981, winning titles in the long jump and 100 meters for the NCAA. It was only natural for him to step up to the Olympic level. Hailed as one of two athletes to win nine Olympic gold medals, his competitive career has outlined him as the man for the job in coaching.