Carl Lewis and Will Blackburn to share Houston Cougars track and field coaching duties

While Lewis is the head coach, Blackburn, a longtime UH staffer, becomes the program's director and field events coach.

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Friday, July 15, 2022
UH taps Olympic legend Carl Lewis as head track coach
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The 61-year-old, a trusted hand in the Cougar track program, gets the baton from former coach and Olympic teammate Leroy Burrell, who left in June.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Thirty years after Carl Lewis and Leroy Burrell were part of a gold medal-winning relay team at the Barcelona Games, the two are once again handing off the baton.

University of Houston announced Lewis, a nine-time Olympic gold medalist, as Burrell's successor to become the UH track and field head coach. Burrell departed the program in June.

Lewis, who turned 61 on July 1, will work with newly-named program director Will Blackburn, who, like Lewis, is a UH assistant coach and alum. According to the school, Blackburn will additionally focus on coaching field athletes in throwing events and horizontal jumps.

"I am excited to continue with this staff on our journey to win a national championship," Lewis said through a statement. "We wanted to continue the legacy of Leroy Burrell and (former track coach) Tom Tellez and agreed this was the way to do it. Will and I have known each other for multiple years and are looking forward to leading this team to all the things we want to do and keeping the history and tradition of #HTownSpeedCity alive."

According to the school, Lewis came to Houston to run for Tellez in 1979 and competed for the Cougars until 1981. After winning the NCAA Championship title in both the long jump and 100-meters, Lewis made the transition to competing professionally. At the conclusion of his competitive career, Lewis' achievements were, and still are, unprecedented in track and field. He is one of two athletes to win nine Olympic gold medals and one of two to win four golds in the same event. He also holds the record for winning 10 medals at the World Outdoor Championships, including eight golds.

Lewis joined the Houston Track and Field Coaching staff in 2013 as a volunteer coach for Burrell before being brought on full-time the following season.

During his time as a coach for Houston, he has helped guide the program to 15 combined conference championships including the Houston Men's Track and Field team's third-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2019. Among the athletes he has coached, many have been Olympians, National Champions, All-Americans and Conference Champions.

Blackburn has been with the Houston track and field team for 22 seasons and has spent time mentoring the throwers, triple jumpers and long jumpers.

During his time at Houston, Blackburn has been a part of 42 conference championship teams while coaching 10 All-Americans and 45 individual conference champions.