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Rod Milburn was born on this date in 1950. He was an African American athlete and community supporter.
From Opelousas, LA, he began his path to Olympic glory at J.S. Clark High School in his hometown. He defeated the best prep trackers in the state to earn a spot on the 1968 All-American team. As a student at Southern University, he set or tied the world record five times and was selected to the all Southwestern Athletic conference team from 1970—73. He won three national collegiate hurdle titles and four National AAU championships, two indoors and two outdoors. During a semifinal race at the National AAU meet in 1971, he won the 120-yard high hurdles in 13.0, smashing the old world record of 13.2 that was set 12 years earlier.
The same year, Milburn went undefeated in 28-straight races and was named Track & Field News Athlete of the Year. He was voted the Most Outstanding Athlete in the World and received the Jim Corbett Award. Milburn also won the 1971 Pan-American Games title but his crowning achievement came in 1972, when he earned a gold medal in the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany.
His Olympic hurdling time of 13.24 went unsurpassed for five years. After 1972, Milburn turned to professional track but the United States boycott of Moscow Games ended his chances of winning another medal. He remained world-ranked until his final retirement in 1983. After retirement, Milburn coached hurdlers at Southern until 1987. He also did community work in Baton Rouge and surrounding area. Tragically, Rod Milburn was killed November 11, 1997 in an industrial accident in Baton Rouge.
President Bill Clinton and his wife sent a message of condolence, which was read at Milburn's funeral. Milburn was selected one of Louisiana's Top 25 Athletes of the Century.
The Associated Press
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