INDIANAPOLIS - Alberto Salazar, who led Galen Rupp, Dathan Ritzenhein and Kara Goucher to career best performances this past season, has been named the 2009 Nike Coach of the Year by USA Track & Field. Salazar will be honored Saturday, December 5 at the Jesse Owens Awards and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, held in conjunction with USA Track & Field's 2009 Annual Meeting in Indianapolis.
A three-time New York City Marathon winner and National Track & Field Hall of Famer as an athlete, Salazar in recent years has led The Oregon Project, sponsored by Nike, which is dedicated to providing the means for U.S. distance runners to be successful. Located at the Nike World Campus in Beaverton, Ore., Salazar utilizes Nike's state of the art facilities and sports scientists in working with his athletes.
Within the last 12 months, Salazar prodigy Galen Rupp completed his collegiate career at the University of Oregon in fine fashion by first winning the NCAA Cross Country men's individual title in the fall of 2008. In 2009, Rupp was a triple winner at the NCAA Indoor Championships, in the mile, 5,000 and distance medley relay, captured the NCAA 10,000m and 5000m outdoor titles and also won the 10,000 for the first time in his career at the USA Outdoor Championships in Eugene in his final race in an Oregon Ducks singlet. Rupp finished his season with an eighth-place finish in the 10,000 meters at the 2009 World Athletics Championships in Berlin, Germany.
Also in 2009, Rupp set the American and collegiate indoor 5,000m record at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark., with his time of 13:18.12, and at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games he set the American collegiate 3,000m record of 7:44.69. He also joined fellow Oregon teammates Matt Centrowitz, Andrew Wheating and Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott in setting the outdoor collegiate 4x1-mile relay record of 16:03.24.
Two-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein announced that Salazar would be his new coach shortly after finishing second to Rupp in the 10,000 meters at the 2009 USA Outdoor Championships, and it didn't take long for them to produce incredible results.
Ritzenhein finished sixth in the 10,000m at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin, which is the highest finish ever by an American in that event, and his time of 27:22:28 is the best ever by an American in the 10,000m at a World Outdoor Championships. Shortly after leaving Berlin, Ritzenhein set the American men's 5,000m record of 12 minutes 56.27 seconds at the August 28 Weltklasse Zurich meeting. Ritzenhein's performance bettered Bob Kennedy's 13-year old standard of 12 minutes 58.21 seconds. It was an almost 20-second personal best for Ritzenhein, which makes him the third-fastest non-African in history, and only the third American ever to run under 13 minutes.
Ritzenhein capped off his 2009 campaign by finishing third and capturing the bronze medal at the World Half-Marathon Championships in Birmingham, GBR, in the personal best time of 60 minutes. Ritzenhein's performance led Team USA to an overall fourth-place finish.
2007 World Outdoor Championships women's 10,000m bronze medalist Kara Goucher also enjoyed a stellar season under Salazar's tutelage. Goucher took third in the women's race at the Boston Marathon in 2 hours 32 minutes 25 seconds, which is the highest finish by an American woman since Kim Jones finished second in 1993.
Later that summer, Goucher finished 10th in the women's marathon at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin, which was the highest individual finish for an American woman since Linda Somers placed seventh in 1995. Goucher's performance led the U.S. to a fifth-place finish in the World Marathon Cup team competition, which is the best ever placing for a Team USA women's squad.
Other Oregon Project athletes with career-best years in 2009 included national 10,000m champion Amy Yoder Begley and men's 5,000m champion Matt Tegenkamp, who like Ritzenhein broke 13:00 for 5,000 meters this summer.
"I am very honored and grateful for this great honor that I've been presented," said Salazar. "However I do so humbly as I know there are many other coaches out there that have done an equal or better job in helping their athletes achieve their goals. I am especially proud of the resurgence in American Distance running that is occurring and thank all those athletes and coaches that have worked so hard for the last ten years to make this possible. The next three years will hopefully see American distance runners on the podium more than ever before."
"Alberto is one of the leaders of the recent resurgence in American long distance running, and his contributions are immeasurable," said USATF CEO Doug Logan. "His ability to get athletes to break through barriers is the mark of a great coach. We have no doubt that all his athletes who had great years have far more greatness to come."
"I am excited for Alberto as he has worked extremely hard for this honor," said John Capriotti, Global Sports Marketing Director for Nike. "He has come a long way as a Coach since the mid 90's. He is a descendent of the Great Oregon Coaching Lineage of Hayward, Bowerman, Dillenger and now Salazar. At the same, he has stayed incredibly humble, passionate, and works endlessly to help his athletes become the best they can be. Congratulations to Alberto for this hard earned and well deserved Award."
For more information on USA Track & Field and the organization's 2009 Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, visit: A HREF="http://www.usatf.org" target="_news">USATF.org.
About USA Track & Field
USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, some of the most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States.
For more information on USATF, visit USATF.org.