Tribute To Lennox Miller

Miller the ultimate competitor

By Paul Burrowes Observer Staff Reporter
Saturday, November 13, 2004


:slight_smile: Between 1966 to 1972, Lennox ‘Billy’ Miller established himself as one of the fastest men in the world.
His death earlier this week brought to an end a great chapter in Jamaica’s sprint tradition.

MILLER … the closest thing to being perfect
Born October 8, 1946, the double Olympic medallist made the most of an era in sprinting where the fastest men called it quits in their 20s.

It was also a period where running 10 seconds in the 100 metres represented a major milestone for a sprinter, as obtains today with a 200-metre man dipping under 20 seconds.

In 1966, running the 100 yards, Miller clocked a year-best 9.3 seconds. It was the second fastest time in the world, shared with eight others, including Australian Gary Holdsworth, Trinidad and Tobago’s Edwin Roberts, and Americans Charles Greene, Tommie Smith and Jim Hines.
Miller’s 9.3 seconds was just outside the world record of 9.1 seconds set by Canada’s Harry Jerome in Edmonton.

Jerome was the 1966 Commonwealth Games champion and two years earlier was the Olympic bronze medallist in the 100 metres.

In the 200 metres, Miller was among the sixth fastest men in the world in 1966. He posted a year-best 20.5, along with Trinidad’s Roberts and Americans Harold Jackson and Norm Jackson.

The following year, 1967, Miller finally got his world record recognition as world number three in the 100 yards and world number four in the 200 metres.

He ran 9.2 seconds, bettered only by Jim Hines and Charles Greene, 9.1. In the 200 metres, Miller timed 20.3, after Tommie Smith (20.0), Willie Turner (20.1), John Carlos (20.2) and Jim Hines (20.2).
His dream year was 1968.

He was National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) 100m champion running for the University of Southern California (USC), known as the Trojans. He won in 10.1 seconds.

Miller then snatched the 100m silver in the XIX Olympic Games in Mexico City, Mexico.

He ran the anchor leg for the Jamaican sprint relay team which set a world 4x100m record in the heat (38.6) and then the semi-final stages (38.3), only to finish fourth the next day behind a US quartet who improved the record further to 38.2 to win the Olympic gold in the final.

But Miller, along with Clifton Forbes, Michael Fray and Errol Stewart, got some consolation with that October 19 semi-final time, electronically put at 38.39 seconds, as it remains a world record for Under-23s in 4x100m relays.

The quartet held the national 4x100m record for almost 32 years, until Lindel Frater, Dwight Thomas, Christopher Williams, and Llewelyn Bredwood ran 38.20 seconds at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

Miller ended 1968 as world number three in the 100.
In 1969, he was ranked as world number three in the 100 yards and world number nine in the 200 metres, playing second fiddle to American John Carlos in both events.

Miller fell out of the world rankings in 1970, but at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburg, Scotland he was the silver medallist, behind fellow Jamaican and rising star, 19 year old Donald Quarrie.

In 1971, at the third staging of the Central American and Caribbean Championships in Kingston, Miller and Quarrie crossed the finish line in the final of the 100 metres in 10.2 seconds. Quarrie took home the gold and Miller the silver.

Quarrie and Miller also finished one-two in 1971 Pan American Games in Cali, Colombia respectively, both ending the year with world rankings of four and five respectively.
In 1972, Miller picked up his second Olympic medal at the Munich Games, taking the 100m bronze in 10.33 seconds. He completed that year with a number seven world ranking.
Miller’s Trojan coach, Vern Wolfe, once said, “I can’t say that Lennox is the world’s fastest human, but I can say that whoever beats him will have to run quite a race.”

Miller holds the Trojan school record for the 100-yard dash (9.2 seconds) and ran the anchor leg on USC’s sprint relay team that - along with Earl McCullouch, Fred Kuller and O J Simpson - won the 1967 NCAA title with a still-standing world record for 440 yards (38.6). Miller was the NCAA 100-yard dash runner-up in 1967 and the 100m champion in 1968 as the Trojans won NCAA team titles both years. Miller’s 47 career NCAA championship points is the third-best total in USC history.

Lennox and his daughter Inger became the first father and daughter to win Olympic track and field medals. They were also the first to win titles in the annual Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden.
His long-time colleague Mike Fray describes him “as the greatest human in your life”.

“He is the closest thing that I know to being perfect,” said Fray, a 200m finalist at the 1968 Olympics and a 100m finalist at the 1972 Olympics.

Fray portrayed Miller as role model, a true family man who was never angry. He didn’t rock the boat, was a compromising and moderating force whose “achievement on the track was comparable to his life”.

Outgoing president of the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association Pat Anderson said Miller was an easy-going, dedicated man committed to his family and profession and would “train with a flashlight” at nights.

Miller graduated from the USC School of Dentistry in 1973, then ran a successful dental practice in Pasadena for the next 30 years. His daughter, Inger, carried on the family sprint tradition, starring at USC before winning a gold medal in the 400m relay at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Miller, who died on Monday aged 58, is survived by his wife, Avril, and two daughters, Inger and Heather.

His friend John Carlos saw him as a quiet man, with intellectual depth. He didn’t speak much, but when Miller contributed, it showed profound thought and an understanding few could emulate, Carlos said. :frowning:
Miller’s major athletic achievements

1968 - Olympic Games 100m silver medallist, 4x100m relay world record holder

1970 - Commonwealth Games 100m silver medallist, Commonwealth Games 4x100m relay champion

1971 - Pan American Games 100m silver medallist, Pan American Games 4x100m champion

1972 - Olympic Games 100m bronze medallist