Born: February 13, 1965 (Milwaukee, WI)
Graduated: Brookfield (WI) Central High School, 1984; Kansas State University, 1988
The triple jump is an especially difficult sport to master. What seems as easy as a hop, a skip, and a jump, is extremely difficult when put into practice and the difficulty is only magnified when tasked with doing the event at an elite, world-class level. The difficulty of the event only makes the accomplishments of former K-State Wildcat Kenny Harrison that much more impressive.
It didn't take long for Harrison to become one of the most decorated track athletes in K-State history once he arrived on campus as he racked up All-American honors in both the long jump and the triple jump during his freshman indoor season. He added another five All-America selections to that tally in indoor to go along with four outdoor All-America selections during his K-State career. Harrison won three NCAA Championships, including the indoor long jump in 1986 and the indoor triple jump in 1988, and he became the first Wildcat since 1970 to win an outdoor NCAA Championship when he won the outdoor triple jump in 1986. In total, he won seven Big 8 Conference outdoor championships in the two events before graduating and turning his attention solely on the triple jump.
Just three years after leaving Kansas State, Harrison was ranked #1 in the world in the triple jump going into the 1992 Olympics but injuries sidelined him from the games. The setbacks and injuries only added fuel to the flame as Harrison geared up for a run at gold in the 1996 games.
After winning the qualifying heat at the 1996 Olympics, Harrison had the top two jumps in the finals, including his gold medal jump of 18.09 meters (59 feet, four inches). Harrison's jump not only won him the gold medal, but also set the American and Olympic Records in the event.