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INDIANAPOLIS -- Louise Ritter (Dallas, Texas) set an American record in the women’s high jump on March 29, 1980 and was a landslide winner of the first USATF Throwback Athlete of the Week award. In the absence of competition during the Covid-19 pandemic, we are taking a weekly look back at some of the great efforts by American track and field athletes through the years.

Ritter, the 1988 Olympic gold medalist at Seoul, won in a fan vote with more than 50% of the 600+ ballots cast. Her 1980 American record performance came at Denton, Texas, where she cleared 1.94m/6-4.25 to add one centimeter to her own AR, set in 1979 to win Pan Am Games gold. Ritter went on to raise the AR to 2.03m/6-8 at Austin, Texas, in 1988 and matched that in her gold-medal effort at Seoul. She set or tied the AR 10 times in her career
 
Other historical performances of note from the March 23-29 period in USATF history:
 

  • March 23 — Catherine Prime American record in women’s discus throw, 31.11m/102-0.75 at Tallahassee in 1924
  • March 24 — Steve Prefontaine American record in 6 Miles, 27:09.4 at Bakersfield in 1973
  • March 25 — Maren Seidler American record in women’s shot put, 18.45m/60-6.5 at San Jose in 1978 (had 4 throws past the existing American record)
  • March 26 — Ben Eastman American record in 440y, 46.4 at Stanford in 1932
  • March 27 — Mark Murro American record in men’s javelin throw, 91.44m/300-0 at Tempe, AZ in 1970
  • March 28 — Dave Roberts World Record in men’s pole vault, 5.65m/18-6.5 at the Florida Relays in 1975

 
Now in its 19th year, USATF’s Athlete of the Week program is designed to recognize outstanding performers at all levels of the sport. USATF names a new honoree each week and features the athlete on USATF.org. Selections are based on top performances and results from the previous week.
 
2020 Winners: January 9, Miranda Melville; January 16, Paul Perry; January 23, Natosha Rogers; January 30, Tyler Day, February 6, Devin Dixon; February 13, Elle Purrier; February 20, Tori Franklin; February 27, Sandi Morris; March 4, Abdi Abdirahman; March 12 Marielle Hall; March 19, Tim Tollefson; April 2, Louise Ritter.
 
We welcome your nominations!
 
To nominate an athlete for USATF Athlete of the Week, please send a detailed email about his/her performance to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 
Fans can follow along with #USATF on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook.

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