Watching the 2012 Olympic Games, Olympic gold medalist James “Jim” Ray Hines reminisced on the moment he made history 48 years ago.
At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, he ran the 100-meter race in 9.95 seconds, breaking the 10-second barrier set by his idol, Olympic sprinter Bob Hayes.
Growing up with 12 brothers and sisters 15 miles from Little Rock in Dumas, Arkansas, Hines had no idea that he would one day break a world record as a track and field athlete.
As a child, baseball was his sport.
“I wanted to be like Willie Mays, the greatest ball player of all time,” he said. “I was playing baseball at the age of 10, center field like Mays.” Hines said. However, it was for his speed on the field that he would soon be known all over the world.
As a sophomore at McClymonds High School, Hines ran 100 yards in 9.7 seconds and even tied the 9.4 record of Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens, becoming the #1 high school sprinter in 1964.
“I had a vision when I was in high school –I wanted to be like Hayes. He set the record 10 seconds flat in the 100 meter race. I envisioned myself becoming like my idol,” he said.
It turned out that Hines became an idol for other sprinters who would come after him. He won two gold medals at the 1968 Olympics, the 100-meter race as the “World’s Fastest Human” and the sprint relay with his teammates Charles Greene, Mel Pender, and Ronnie Ray Smith.
He has won many accolades including, recently nominated to be inducted into the Oakland Athletic League Hall of Fame on Nov. 17 and the Dallas Black Sports Hall of Fame on Nov. 30.
The Texas Southern graduate attributes his success to his parents’ support, his faith and his unwavering belief in himself.
“You must believe in yourself because if you don’t, no matter what your endeavor is, it’ll be hard to accomplish,” he said.
Through his Jim Hines Foundation, the former athlete encourages youth to be confident and lead positive lives.
“I want to help as many kids as possible, not just in track and field but in all other sports and endeavors to help them reach their dreams,” he said. “Respect and honor people who are older than you are, and when you do this, it’ll make your success come pretty easy.”