The date: May 11, 1974. The place: Tom Black Track in Knoxville, Tennessee. The event: the 100-yard dash.
On this day an 11-year-old world record was broken. Ivory Crockett, a 1968 graduate of Webster Groves High School, ran a 9.0 time to break Bob Hayes' time of 9.1 set in 1963. After this feat, Crockett claimed the title "the world's fastest human."
The Los Angeles Times marked Crockett's feat with the headline: "Immortality in 9 Seconds Flat." While the St. Louis Globe Democrat heralded, "Crockett's 9-flat Cruise Puts Him in Track Elite." So that in nine seconds, Crockett made himself immortal and joined one of the world's most exclusive clubs. In the past 100 years only eight Americans have officially brought the time barrier down at 100 yards.
Prior to the race, Crockett placed a piece of paper in his shoe with the number 9.0 written on it. "I felt pretty confident that I was going to do it," he said. "I had my speech ready." He holds the world record for a hand-timed 100-yard dash. Crockett's name remains in the record books. "I'll always hold the record because they don't run the race anymore," Crockett said. "That's pretty cool." Races today are run by the metric system, not by yards.
In addition to holding the world record, Crockett also holds school records at Brentwood and Webster Groves high schools and at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale where he attended college.
Crockett moved into the Webster Groves home of his aunt and uncle, Georgia and Eugene Crockett, after his sophomore year at Brentwood. While a senior at Webster Groves, he ran a 9.5 in the 100-yard dash, the second fastest high school time in the world that year. Colleges recruited him heavily. In 1969 and again in 1970, while at SIU he defeated Olympian John Carlos in the 100 in the National AAU championships.
Crockett, known as "Country," came from humble beginnings. He was born in Hall, Tennessee, population: 300. His father was a sharecropper. The family moved to Missouri when Crockett was a boy.
Crockett, voted one of the top 100 St. Louis athletes in the 20th century, remains humble. "As a person, I don't think I ever changed. I never thought I was better than anybody," says Crockett. "I achieved a lot. I have talents and gifts. I worked very hard to get there. If you want to take the next step, you have to be willing to work for it."
The City of Webster Groves honored the world champion for his accomplishments by naming a park in his honor. Ivory Crockett Park is located at Bell and Thornton Avenues.
Likewise, Crockett is honored to give back to the Webster Groves community through the annual Run for Webster, his effort to return support to the schools that nurtured and provided early life lessons while he was a student there.