1960s star Otis Burrell back high jumping — at Western Regionals

Otis Burrell

Otis Burrell

Otis Burrell, the No. 1-ranked American high jumper in 1965, 1966 and 1969, had a best of 2.19 meters (7-2 1/4) as a straddler. Although he competed last season, I wasn’t aware that he was back in the game until viewing results from the USATF Western Regional Masters Championships last weekend at Caltech. He turned 69 in May, and he’s been a track coach at nearby Santa Monica College. I found some archival footage of him with other greats of that era, like Dick Fosbury, Ed Caruthers and Reynaldo Brown. Now it’s great to see him back! Here’s how he did in Pasadena against my high school jump coach Charlie Rader:


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June 20, 2013

7 Responses

  1. Matt McCubbins - June 20, 2013

    Very cool! Hope to meet you someday, Otis!

    Ken, thanks for posting that old high jump footage from the late 60’s — it is fantastic!!

  2. Peter Hlavin - June 20, 2013

    Glad to see Otis on the Masters high jump scene. Love watching his jumping, including signature arm drive.

    Archival footage of Otis begins at the 1:38:06 time mark.


  3. Jeff Davison - June 20, 2013

    Otis has been hurdling for a couple of seasons
    And is also a great jump coach (including LJ).

  4. annelies steekelenburg - June 20, 2013

    Oh ,I remember those steel bars.
    Many black and blue marks !!
    There is always some kind of “highjump clinic ”
    going on after the competition with Otis and Peter
    advising, correcting, studying the videos just taken.
    Beyond fun ! Always makes the day.

  5. henry - June 20, 2013

    How many of us started with the roll/straddle before switching to the flop? I did. I remember those steel bars too; the triangular ones were the worst. Very cool to see this film footage.

  6. RobertoPozzi - June 21, 2013

    We competed together in the Pan American Games in 1967 Winnipeg Canada. Otis Burrell was not only a great high jumper, but a great gentleman as well.

  7. Bruce Thomas - June 14, 2018

    So cool to hear that Otis is still jumping. Met him in 1965 at Univ of Nevada. He was my hero. I was this skinny white kid who loved track and field but with no real talent. After trying various events Otis suggested that I try the triple jump. The coach said that if I could ever make into the pit that he might let me participate in a home meet. Otis vouched for my character at a student judiciary council meeting after I was caught with an alcoholic beverage on campus. Even Otis couldn’t save me. Got booted for a semester. Keep on jumping OTIS!

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