James Sanford (athlete)

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James Sanford
Personal information
CitizenshipUnited States
Born (1957-12-27) December 27, 1957 (age 61)
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)100 m: 010.02 s (Westwood, Los Angeles CA, USA; 11/05/1980)[1]
200 m: 20.19 s (Westwood, Los Angeles CA, USA; 28/04/1979)[1]
James Sanford
Medal record
Men’s athletics
Representing  United States
IAAF World Cup
Gold medal – first place 1979 Montreal 100 m

James Sanford (born December 27, 1957) is a retired track and field sprinter from the United States.

He was champion at the 100 metres at the 1979 IAAF Athletics World Cup in Montreal.

He also held the best time for the 100 metres at a low altitude for one year, a time of 10.02 seconds, until Carl Lewis improved this record to 10.00 seconds in May 1981.


While running for Pasadena High School, Sanford won the 400 metres, anchored his team to victory in the 4x400 metres relay and was second in the 200 metres (a race brother Michael was to win the next two years) at the 1977 CIF California State Meet. After high school, he moved on to the University of Southern California. Here he enjoyed great track success over the next four years.[2] Sanford still holds the school records in the 100 metres and 200 metres - a statement all the more impressive considering some of the people who have been through the program including Olympic sprint Gold Medalists Lennox Miller, Don Quarrie, Mel Patton and Quincy Watts. Along with brother Michael he also is on the school record holding 4x100 metres relay team.

Sanford originally considered himself a 200/400 metres runner and it was only in 1979 that he started to concentrate on the 100 meters. This change resulted in wins that year in the NCAA championships and US National Championships 100 meters events.[3][4]

The win in the national championships qualified Sanford for the USA team at the 1979 IAAF World Cup where he became champion at 100 metres.[5] Sanford picked up a muscle injury in a race in Berlin seven days earlier and was a doubt to run (Harvey Glance was to be his substitute). It was also suggested that he anchor the United States 4 × 100 m relay team but in the end United States team coach, Sam Bell, favoured the experience of Steve Riddick.[6]

Sanford was considered the favorite in the lead-up to the 1980 Summer Olympics boycott-marred United States Olympic Trials (track and field). However, he suffered an early-season defeat by a young Carl Lewis, then finished third in the 100 metres at the NCAA championships before finally injuring himself in the 200 metres there, ending his season.[7] (He also did not qualify for the 1984 Olympics, only finishing 5th in his semi-final of the 100 m.)

On May 11, 1980 at a meet in Westwood, Los Angeles, California, Sanford set the unofficial low altitude world record in the 100 metres at 10.02 s,[8][9] a mark which stood for just over a year, when it was improved by Carl Lewis to 10.00 s.[10][11]

In 1981 he set the world's best year performance in the men's 200 metres clocking 20.20 s on 10 May at a meet in Westwood, Los Angeles.[11][12]


Sanford was ranked among the best in the US and the world in both the 100 and 200 m sprint events from 1978 to 1981, according to the votes of the experts of Track and Field News.[13][14][15][16]

USA Championships[edit]

Sanford was a very successful competitor in the USA National Track and Field Championships between 1978 and 1981:[3]


  1. ^ a b http://www.iaaf.org/athletes/biographies/letter=s/athcode=7563/index.html IAAF, Athletes Biographies
  2. ^ USC's Official Athletic Site - Men's Outdoor Track
  3. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-06-09. Retrieved 2012-06-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) A History Of The Results Of The National Track & Field Championships Of The USA From 1876 Through 2003, Track and Field News, Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  4. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1915&dat=19790627&id=hyxHAAAAIBAJ&sjid=PfgMAAAAIBAJ&pg=5010,5297610 The Day, Connecticut, 27 June 1979. Retrieved 9 February 2012.
  5. ^ IAAF World Cup in Athletics
  6. ^ http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1095300/index.htm Sports Illustrated, Kenny Moore, September 3, 1979.
  7. ^ http://www.usatf.org/statistics/champions/OlympicTrials/HistoryOfTheOlympicTrials.pdf The History of the United States Olympic Trials - Track & Field, R Hymans, USA Track & Field, 2008
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-11. Retrieved 2012-02-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) World Record Progression. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
  9. ^ E L Quercetani & G Pallicca, A World History of Sprint Racing 1850-2005, p 311
  10. ^ http://www.apulanta.fi/matti/yu/yt/index_Men.html#1981 Statistics 1981 Athletics World Leaders
  11. ^ a b E L Quercetani & G Pallicca, A World History of Sprint Racing 1850-2005, p 313
  12. ^ http://digilander.libero.it/atletica2/Stagionali/WRL/1981/200.htm 1981 Year Rankings at 200 m
  13. ^ "World Rankings Index--Men's 100 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News.
  14. ^ "U.S. Rankings Index--Men's 100 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News.
  15. ^ "World Rankings Index--Men's 200 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News.
  16. ^ "U.S. Rankings Index--Men's 200 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News.

Further reading[edit]

  • R L Quercetani & G Pallicca, "A World History of Sprint Racing 1850-2005", SEP Editrice Srl, 2006.

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
United States Steve Williams
Men's 100m Champion IAAF World Cup
Succeeded by
United Kingdom Allan Wells
Preceded by
Italy Pietro Mennea
Men's 100m Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
United States Carl Lewis
Preceded by
Italy Pietro Mennea
Men's 200m Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
United States Mike Miller