Carol Lewis

Track and Field

4-Time US champion, 2-time American records, 12-time All-American

It was about four weeks before the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, and Carol Lewis was training in California for the long jump. One of the top woman long jumpers in the US, Lewis had just brought home a bronze medal in the long jump from the World Championships the year before. As Lewis landed one of her practice jumps in the training pit, she immediately knew she had severely sprained her ankle. Still qualifying despite the injury, she made the trip to Los Angeles to compete. Unfortunately, Lewis finished in ninth place at the 1984 Games. “If I could change anything, I would not have gone into the Olympic Games injured,” Lewis once explained. “Because I know that I would have won a medal in those Games.” Carol and her brother Carl Lewis were the children of William and Evely (Lawler) Lewis. Evelyn, who competed in the hurdles for the US at the 1951 Pan American Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was determined that her children would pursue sports. Her daughter got involved in all kinds of sports. “I did gymnastics in the fall, diving in the winter, and ran track in the spring and summer,” Carol remembered. In 1980, at age 16 and still a student at Willingboro (NJ) High School, Lewis qualified in the long jump for her first Olympics, but due to the US boycott of the Olympics in Moscow, she never got the opportunity to compete. (She did receive one of the 461 Congressional Gold Medals created especially for these qualifying athletes.) Her first international competition was at the Liberty Bell Classic, an alternate event for boycotting athletes, where she won a silver medal in the long jump. In recognition of her achievement, she received the Dial Award, presented annually by the Dial Corporation to the nation’s best male and female high school athlete/scholars. At Willingboro, Lewis set the high school indoor long jump record at 21’ 7 ½” in 1981. After graduation, she followed in the footsteps of her brother and accepted a scholarship to the University of Houston. At Houston, Lewis captured two NCAA long jump titles in 1983 and 1985, and still holds the University’s indoor and outdoor long jump records. During this time, she became the first American woman to long jump over 23 feet and added four outdoor and four indoor US long jump championships. She broke the American record twice at the same meet in Zurich, Switzerland. Her mark stood for two years before it was broken by Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Lewis qualified for her third Olympics in 1988 but unfortunately missed qualifying for the finals by only one centimeter. Following the Games, she switched occupations from athlete to sports commentator to take advantage of her radio, television, and journalism major at Houston. “I commentated on a lot of track and field because that was my sport,” recalled Lewis. “But over the years, I have done precision figure skating, college football and even women’s tennis. I also commentated on the track events for the 1996, 2000 and 2008 Summer Olympics.” But Carol Lewis was not quite done with the world of sports. In 2000, Lewis began competing in the two-woman bobsled and although she failed to make the 2002 US Olympic team, she served as brakeman at the 2002 World Cup in Calgary. In 2008, following the Beijing Olympic games, Lewis left NBC and sports commentary entirely. She started working as a 911 operator but quickly moved into human resources, getting her start with the human resources department at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. She next worked at the Houston Dynamo FC before landing at St. John’s Private K-12 School in Houston, TX. Lewis’ parents were both teachers as well as athletes, which made Carol a natural in interacting with children and eased her transition into Human Resources Director at St. John’s, where she currently serves. Carol Lewis remains involved with the Olympic Movement as the Vice Chair of USA Taekwondo and serves as a board member for Girls on the Run and Greater Houston. There is no doubt that Carol Lewis’ accomplishments were overshadowed by the accomplishments of her nine-time Olympic gold medalist brother Carl, quite possibly the greatest track and field athlete ever. But Carol Lewis is now in a position where she can have a positive influence on children and their education. “Carol’s really great with kids, and she has a great gift for interacting with them,” explained her friend Claudette Groenendaal. By Rich Pagano

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Charter Class (2004)

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