Fans cheering and adrenaline pumping through your veins like gasoline to a car. These were the feelings that John B. Barnes must have felt as he walked in arena for the 1952 Olympics held in Finland. A member of the track team, John was ranked 3rd in the nation and at the age of 20 practically beat everybody in his sport, track. With the help of his friends and family John would go all the way. When he stepped on to the track nothing else mattered. All he thought about was winning, and for him sky was the limit.
Iím John B. Barnes and I was born in Oklahoma in 1929.Iím English ,Irish , Scots, and American Indian (old Sagian Suex). M great great grandfather was a full blooded Sues Chief , my grandmother was born in a Suex camp outside of Fort Lermy in 1883.My mother was born in a reservation in 1904 , my grandfather was a full time cowboy who ran away when he was 12 years old.
I was in the 1952 Olympics at
Helsinki , Finland and ran the 800.I didnít place in the games , but after the
games was part of a worldís record rally team, a 4-man 880 and a 4-man 4 mile.
We set a world record in the 1st
run and an American record in the 2nd run. I unfortunately donít
hold the record anymore, but track has improved tremendously. Advanced
physiology , sheers, and all tracks are now surfaced. It was just a different
way , it was just a different style back then . My best time in the 800s was a
149.6 and in the 880s it was a 148.2.It those days though we didnít run meters
though , we ran yards and during the Olympic year , national championships,
weíd run meters.
I qualified for the games at
the L.A Coliseum and got to the semi-finals in 52.The 1st , 2nd
,and 3rd place runners went to the games and forth stayed home, I
placed second so I went. Every time I think of the tryouts I still get the
chills, there was so much at stake , you can work hard for four years and in one
bad race it was over, your out ,you placed fourth and your dead. At that time I
was ranked 3rd and still had that ranking even though I didnít do
to well in the games because I did so well afterwards.
that time I was overwhelmed , but as I look back on it now I was a privileged
few. Iím really thankful for the experience. We just had our reunion at
Occidental College of our 1950 track team , that was the 1st track
team nationally ranked from that school I saw some of my buddies, you form a
bond when you get in that level of competition, when your really under fireÖ
that lasts a life and thatís what the greatest experience is. The highlight of
my track career wasnít going to the games or winning two national championships
, it was about the buddies that I ran with .Another highlight of my track career
was when we beat Stanford. Now we had a student body of bout 1250 students and
we beat Stanford in the mile relay 60 to 63. Iíll never forget that cause we
all pulled together and that means
so much more, instead of accepting it on your ownÖ I appreciate the individual
awards , donít get me wrong , but you canít compare with the friends I had
they do that. The greatest coach in the world, Patton Jordan, later became head
coach of the U.S. for the Mexico City Games and Stanford. He taught me
discipline of the sport, without discipline your dead in the water, no matter
what you do , if you arenít disciplined and focused your not gonna make it
.You have to !!! You have to
determine there whether itís worth it or not
! If it isnít then donít do it .Donít do it because your girlfriend
is out there or your buddies are , you do it because you wanna make yourself a
better person because of it , if you have that attitude , great things can
happen, if you donít youíll be disappointed.
After the Olympics is was your
attitude that said who you were, it depended on it. If you go back and act that
youíre than everyone then your gonna get a negative feel, but if you go back
and realize that itís a privilege and only by the grace of God that you made
it , and tell them you did it by his grace, will you be appreciated. NO one does
it alone, no one !!!No one makes it to the games alone, you have to have a coach
, you have to have people who support you and
people who wanna see you do well. You get all that behind you and then
good things can happen, but if you try to do it by yourself , youíre never
gonna make it. You just arenít ! Weíre creatures that demand that , itís
easy to get very arrogant if youíve don well, but you have to realized where
you came from and who put you there .Without my college coach I would have
never, never, never made it.
When I was a freshman, he said,
"John youíre making it to the games in 52." I said coach you're
crazy!!! He never gave up on me , he disciplined me, made me learn how to focus,
and it paid off, it paid of all my life.
I had my chance to go back to the Olympics when I was in the service at Lackland Air force Base and train with the U.S Olympic team .(candidates)I didnít take it though, at the time I was in a Baptist church ,it was a missionary church, and the pastor was sick. I was saved in the service , became a Christian in 54 and I said no.!!! I belong here and knew then and there that my chances for the 56 games was over, but itís OK. ÖMade a choice and I donít regret it.