THE ‘RIO THING’: Reynaldo Brown in Olympic Games history
With Rio de Janeiro XXXI Summer 2016 Olympic Games approaching, a look back at Compton’s Own, high jumper Reynaldo Brown COMPTON — Reynaldo Brown may not be a familiar name to many of today's sports fans and
With Rio de Janeiro XXXI Summer 2016 Olympic Games approaching, a look back at Compton’s Own, high jumper Reynaldo Brown
COMPTON — Reynaldo Brown may not be a familiar name to many of today’s sports fans and track & field aficionados. But back in the day, Brown was a Compton High School phenom in the high jump — good enough to make the U.S. Olympic team as an 17-year-old.
Brown competed in the 1968 Mexico City Summer Games at the beginning of his junior year in high school, finishing fifth. Not bad for a high school athlete. His participation in that transitional event saw him witness teammate Dick Fosbury take the gold medal implementing a new technique of his own invention, the Fosbury Flop, leaving Brown as one of the last successful jumpers to use the conventional Western Roll straddle technique.
While at Compton High School, Brown was a man among boys, winning the
CIF California State Meet three straight times, after being overshadowed by teammate Bill Morris as a freshman.
Brown was the first high school athlete in U.S. history — possibly the world — to leap seven feet. He accomplished that feat in 1968 and was invited to a preliminary elimination round of Olympic Trials for the Mexico City Games. In that competition, Brown gave a good accounting of his ability finishing fourth. That qualified him for the full-fledged Olympic Trials at Echo Summit, where he had to defeat another high school phenom, John Hartfield to make the team, ultimately finishing second behind another Californian Ed Caruthers, the future silver medalist. Fosbury was third at the trials.
In the Games at Mexico City, Brown failed to medal, finishing fifth behind his teammates, gold medalist Fosbury and silver medalist Caruthers. The bronze medal went to Valentin Gavrilov of the Soviet Union.
Brown returned to school late in the term after his Olympic adventure, two months behind in his studies, but he caught up, in time to help lead his Compton Tarbabes basketball team to the CIF State championship under legendary coach William “Bill” Armstrong.
That year in 1968, Brown was named the Track and Field News “High School Athlete of the Year.”
Brown continued his education at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he won two NCAA Division II National Championships, which qualified him to compete and also win the Division I National Championship each of those years. In the process, he set the NCAA Small School, Cal Poly, SLO; and National Collegiate record at 7’4″ in 1973.
In 1993, Brown was inducted into the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Athletics Hall of Fame.
Reynaldo Brown was one of the most consistent 7-foot jumpers of the 1970s. He won the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in 1970 and 1971. In between those conquests, he also won the 1971 USA Indoor Track and Field Championships.