|Birth Day:||January 25, 1951|
|Height:||in centimeters - N/A|
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He played football and basketball before discovering cross country in eighth grade.
Prefontaine was born on January 25, 1951, in Coos Bay, Oregon. His father, Raymond George Prefontaine (November 11, 1919 – December 21, 2004), was a welder after his time serving in the U.S. Army in World War II. Steve's mother, Elfriede Anna Marie Sennholz (March 4, 1925 – July 16, 2013), worked as a seamstress. The two returned to Coos Bay after Ray met Elfriede in Germany while serving with the U.S. occupation forces. The middle child and only son, he had two sisters, Neta and Linda, and they all grew up in a house built by their father.
He decided to enroll at the University of Oregon to train under coach Bill Bowerman (who in 1964 co-founded Blue Ribbon Sports, later to become known as Nike). He won four 5,000 meter titles in track three times in a row. At this time, he suffered only two more defeats in college (both in the mile), winning three Division I NCAA Cross Country Championships and four straight three-mile/5000-meter titles in track. He was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.
It wasn't until Prefontaine read a letter from Bowerman that he made up his mind to attend the University of Oregon. Bowerman wrote that he was 'certain' Prefontaine would become the world's greatest distance runner if he decided to run at Oregon. Although it was an odd promise, Prefontaine was up for the challenge. Sometime after Prefontaine announced that he signed a letter of intent to attend Oregon on the first of May in 1969, Bowerman wrote a letter addressed to the community of Coos Bay describing his appreciation for their role in helping Steve become a great runner.
A local celebrity, chants of "Pre! Pre! Pre!" became a frequent feature at Hayward Field, a place where famous runners ran. Fans liked to wear T-shirts that read "LEGEND" or "GO PRE", though there was one instance where a group of fans jokingly put on shirts that read "STOP PRE". Prefontaine found humor in the shirts and when offered, decided to wear one for his victory lap. Prefontaine rapidly gained national attention and appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated at age 19 in June 1970. He was on the cover of Track and Field News's November 1969 issue.
In 1971, he began his training for the following year's Olympic Games in Munich, which had special meaning for his family (his mother was German and his parents had met and married in Germany). Prefontaine set the American record of 13:22.8 in the 5000 meters at the 1972 Olympic Trials in Eugene on July 9. An underdog at the 1972 Olympics in Munich in September, Against a world-class field of athletes, Prefontaine took the lead in the 5,000 m final during the last mile and ended the slow pace of the first two miles, negative splitting the race. In second place at the start of the bell lap, he fell back to third with 200 meters to go. Lasse Virén took the lead in the final turn over silver medalist Mohammed Gammoudi. Finding himself struggling to keep up, Prefontaine ran out of gas with only 10 meters to go as Britain's hard-charging Ian Stewart overtook him and moved into third place, depriving Prefontaine of an Olympic bronze medal.. Prefontaine later said "That was the most disappointed I have ever been. I guess I underestimated the strength of Viren and Gammoudi, and Stewart was way too good for me at the end. That last 200 metres, I felt exhausted. They didn't allow me to run the race the way I had planned to, I was chasing them all the way."
Following his collegiate career at Oregon, Prefontaine prepared for the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. While running for the Oregon Track Club, Prefontaine set American records in every race from 2,000 to 10,000 meters. In 1974, Prefontaine was invited to give a presentation at a banquet. It was held in Eugene the night prior to the Junior College Cross Country Championships. Prefontaine talked about the importance of cross country through his own eyes. After his death, the notes Prefontaine made were given to his family.
In 1975, a group of traveling Finnish athletes took part in an NCAA Prep meet at Hayward Field in Eugene. After the event on Thursday, May 29, which included a 5,000-meter race that Prefontaine won, the Finnish and American athletes attended a party at the home of former Duck runner Geoff Hollister. Shortly after midnight, Prefontaine left the party to drive Frank Shorter to Kenny Moore's home on Prospect Drive, then descended narrow Skyline Boulevard alone, east of the university campus near Hendricks Park. While in the extended right curve near the base, his orange 1973 MGB convertible crossed the center line, jumped the curb, impacted a rock wall (44°02′36″N 123°03′18″W / 44.0433°N 123.0549°W / 44.0433; -123.0549) and flipped, trapping him underneath it while trying to avoid colliding with a car driven by 20-year-old Karl Bylund. A nearby resident, Bill Alvarado (1936-2006), was first on the scene and reported he found Prefontaine flat on his back, still alive but pinned beneath the wreck. By the time medics arrived, he was pronounced dead. It had been reported that his blood alcohol content was found by the Eugene Police Department to be 0.16. The official cause of death was traumatic asphyxiation and he had no other injuries that contributed.
At the time of his death in May 1975, Prefontaine held every American outdoor track record between 2,000 and 10,000 meters. His personal best times over each distance, including those records, are below.
Prefontaine was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1983, where several exhibits showcase his shoes, shirts, and other memorabilia. He was also inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in upper Manhattan where one of his Oregon track uniforms is on display.
Pre's Rock was dedicated in December 1997 and is maintained by Eugene Parks and Recreation as Prefontaine Memorial Park. The rock (44°02′36″N 123°03′18″W / 44.0433°N 123.0549°W / 44.0433; -123.0549) is a mile (1.6 km) due east of Hayward Field, just across the Willamette River from the east end of Pre's Trail. On Skyline Boulevard, it is approximately 150 feet (45 m) from its intersection with Birch Lane.
The Pete Susick Stadium at Marshfield High School in Coos Bay dedicated their track to honor Prefontaine, in April 2001.
Nike used video footage in a commercial titled "Pre Lives" advertising his spirit for their product. On the 30th anniversary of his death in 2005, Nike placed a memorial advertisement in Sports Illustrated, Eugene's Register-Guard, and aired a television commercial in his honor. Nike's headquarters have a building named after him.
The Prefontaine Memorial, featuring a relief of his face, records, and date of birth, is located at the Coos Bay Visitor Center in Coos Bay. In 2008, ten memorial plaques were laid along the Prefontaine Memorial Race route, the former training grounds of Prefontaine. The plaques bear an image of Prefontaine from his high school yearbook and various quotes and records from his time in Coos Bay. The plaques were part of a grant from the Oregon Tourism Commission, the Coos Bay-North Bend Visitor & Convention Bureau, and the Prefontaine Memorial Committee.
Prefontaine remains an iconic figure at the University of Oregon to this day. In 2020, the university polled alumni and fans on social media, asking them which four UO alumni they would place on a notional Mount Rushmore for the university. Prefontaine was one of the four winners, along with Nike cofounder Phil Knight; current NFL player Marcus Mariota, the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner; and Sabrina Ionescu, who had just completed an epic college basketball career for the Ducks.
Steve grew up with his sister Linda in Coos Bay, Oregon.
Currently, Steve Prefontaine is 71 years, 6 months and 17 days old. Steve Prefontaine will celebrate 72nd birthday on a Wednesday 25th of January 2023. Below we countdown to Steve Prefontaine upcoming birthday.
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