Lennox Miller, a USC graduate and Olympic sprinter for Jamaica who won a silver medal in 1968 and a bronze medal in 1972 in the 100-meter dash, has died. He was 58.
Miller died Monday of cancer in Pasadena.
While at USC, where he lettered for Coach Vern Wolfe from 1967 to 1969, Miller ran the anchor leg for the Trojan sprint relay team, which included, in order, Earl McCullouch, Fred Kuller and O.J. Simpson.
On June 17, 1967, the sprint team set a world record in the 440-yard relay with a time of 38.6 seconds at the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. track and field meet at Provo, Utah, breaking the previous mark by a second. Their legacy will stand in history because yardage marks are no longer used in the sport, having been replaced by metric measurements. It was estimated that USC beat runner-up Tennessee by 15 yards, a great distance in a relay race.
"Most of the job was done before I got the baton," Miller said in a Times interview in 1987, reflecting upon the race. "Earl made up the stagger [at the start], Fred ran a heck of a leg, and O.J. wiped out everyone who was left. No one was even close to me when I got the baton."
Miller holds the USC record for the 100-yard dash, 9.2 seconds, was runner-up in the NCAA finals in 1967 and won the event in 1968, helping the Trojans to national championships in both years. His 47 NCAA championship points rank third in school history,
After the 1968 season, Miller competed for his native Jamaica at the Mexico City Games, finishing second to the United States' Jim Hines.
Back at USC, Miller set a school record of 10.04 seconds in the 100 meters in 1968, a mark that lasted 12 years. A year later, Miller broke the world record in the indoor 100-meter dash, and from 1967 to 1969 was ranked in the top three in the world in the 100 meters. He took a two-week break from school to compete in the Munich Games in 1972, finishing third behind the Soviet Union's Valery Borzov and American Robert Taylor.
Miller, who graduated from the USC School of Dentistry in 1973, practiced in Pasadena for 30 years.
He also served for a time as coach for his daughter, Inger, who herself ran track at USC and won Olympic gold. Inger ran the third leg of the U.S. women's 400-meter relay team at the 1996 Atlanta Games, a team that also included Chryste Gaines, Gail Devers and Gwen Torrence. The U.S. finished in 41.95 seconds, easily beating the Bahamas and Jamaica.
It was the first time in Olympic track and field history that a father and daughter had both won medals. Still, Inger said in a 1996 Times interview that her father's sprinting past was rarely mentioned at home.
"We'd have family friends over and we'd watch videos," said Inger, who graduated in 1995 from USC with a degree in biological science. "And we'd say, 'Oh, my God! That's Dad! Look at his hair!' "
It was a hairstyle from a more innocent time, her father would say. A time when he worked on the USC grounds crew to fund his training, according to the Washington Post.
"During those days, track and field was the sport that most of us competed in in college before we found gainful employment," Miller told the Post in 2000. "In my mind, it was a way to get an education.... It wasn't a bragging tool."
It was also a time before the flood of performance-enhancing drugs sullied his sport.
"We were amateurs," Miller told another interviewer last year. "We were college kids who ran in our spare time for the love of it. There was no ducking our rivals; we met each other head to head for weekend after weekend. We took the time to get proper conditioning and there was a consistency in our performance as we inched closer to the world records."
Besides daughter Inger, Miller is survived by his wife, Avril, and another daughter, Heather. Services are pending.