June 25, 2008
WASHINGTON - American University head cross country and track and field coach Matt Centrowitz will take part in a celebration of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Track and Field team this Friday, June 27th, during the opening ceremonies of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials in Eugene, Ore.
Centrowitz qualified for the 1980 U.S. Olympic team in the men's 5000 meter run during a period in which he won four consecutive national championships in the event from 1979 to 1982 and set a new American record of 13:12.91 at the 1982 Prefontaine Classic. He was also a member of the 1976 Olympic Team while enrolled at the University of Oregon competing in the 1500 meter run.
Despite qualifying for the 1980 Summer Olympic Games, Centrowitz and his teammates fell victim to a U.S.-led boycott of the Games and were not permitted to compete. The boycott of the 1980 Moscow games was in response to the Soviet Union's 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. President Jimmy Carter urged the International Olympic Committee to relocate the summer games after the Soviet Union's invasion. His request was denied and the U.S. boycotted the games.
"Competing at the Olympic Games was always a goal of mine but not the only reason I ran," Centrowitz said. "The lessons that I learned through the process of training and through the experiences of being an amateur athlete have proven to be invaluable. Now, I try to pass these experiences along to our AU student-athletes in the hopes that they can use them to enrich their collegiate experience and their lives after college."
The Local Organizing Committee of Eugene, Ore., has invited all athletes and staff members from the 1980 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team to attend the 2008 Olympic Team Trials which will begin June 27th and conclude July 6th. Centrowitz will be joined by more than 80 former teammates when they are officially recognized during the opening ceremonies on Friday. This year marks the first time since 1980 that the Olympic Team Trials have been held in Eugene.