“I just have to thank God that I had that opportunity, and then that I was prepared for it and that there were people rooting for me. And then I had a coach that said, ‘Just do what you do in practice.’”—Willie Banks
Willie Banks brings to life his journey toward becoming a legend in the sport of triple jumping. You’ll learn about what sets triple jumping apart from the other events in track and field, how his signature clapping routine got started, and what he thinks the sport needs to grow fans.
If you’ve ever been mesmerized by the storytelling of an Olympic GREAT, then you’re sure to love this episode and be ready to Go Be More.
(2:10) Willie shares a bit about growing up in a military family and how sports and activities were just a way to tire him out.
(6:04) Building a high jump out of mattresses never ends well…
(7:16) A seventh-grader gets inspired by a senior in high school who jumps with his sweats on…
(10:20) Kicked off the team for doing it his way…
(12:10) What does the triple jump have to do with a drinking game?
(14:32) A history teacher who knew “a bit” about the triple jump…
(16:45) Why the Avocado League had to extend the triple jump pit…
(18:22) “My attitude towards growing up black in the United States was tough for me.”
(20:08) Developing a whole philosophy of living had to involve three.
(22:06) Jon shares what it was like with a Dad in the navy.
(24:17) “You have to stick up for your friends and your family and for what is right.” Willie shares when he went up against his teacher.
(28:20) Bryan asks about the transition from high school to UCLA.
(33:09) The craziness of the USC, UCLA dual meet…
(37:12) “Go do what you do in practice,” Willie carries the weight of the meet.
(42:36) “I actually wanted to go to Stanford.”
(43:32) What Clarence Taylor taught me about triple jumping…
(46:04) What happened when Jon started viewing his running performance as art.
(48:01) “But if our sport wants to survive, we have to be entertaining.”
(50:34) A learning moment—Willie gets good news and bad news as an American record holder in Germany…
(53:34) The impact of some drunk Swedes…
(57:59) A triple jumper takes a victory lap…
(1:03:39) How do we take our sport to the level it deserves to be at?
(1:05:25) The need for stars and supporters…
(1:09:20) We need more circus and Colosseum…
(1:11:24) Here’s why track grew in the ’70s and ’80s…
(1:13:56) What happens when individual organizers pay for their own meet and find sponsors and get investors?
(1:16:21) “It’s a macro version of your triple jump experience that you were creating for the fans, right?” Bryan shares his experience with the Rock and Roll Marathon.
(1:21:54) Affinity happens before, after, on, and off the track.
(1:26:16) What’s next on Willie’s plate?
(1:28:44) What does Go Be More mean to you?
(1:31:56) Closing and what’s coming up.
If you liked this episode, check out our interviews with ‘Mr. Marathon’ Tracy Sundlun and former USA triple jumper Von Ware.
Recorded August 28, 2020.
Willie Banks WR Triple Jump – YouTube
World Athletics Profile – WorldAthletics.org
Willie Banks – @williebanks
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