News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Given to Fly

July 13, 2007

Given to Fly: Indiana State’s John McNichols heads to Rio for Pan Am Games

TERRE HAUTE — In just more than a month, practice will have officially begun for John McNichols and his 25th men’s cross country team at Indiana State.

In the meantime, the 56-year-old leaves Tuesday on the trip of a lifetime.

McNichols was invited to coach at the international senior level for the first time in his career. He will direct the U.S. hurdlers and sprinters for the Pan American Games. Opening ceremonies were Friday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The coach of two national champion hurdlers at Indiana State — Chris Lancaster won the 110-meter hurdles in 1990 and Aubrey Herring the 60s in 2001 — McNichols said this is the greatest honor he’s had in coaching.

“This is just kind of a dream,” said McNichols, who currently serves as hurdles broad event chair for the United States Track and Field men’s development committee. He has also answered his sport’s call as a meet official in the 1984 Olympics and 1987 Pan American games.

“I’m looking at this one as a lifetime opportunity and I’m going to enjoy every minute of the trip as well as do all the extra things I can possibly do to help all our athletes.”

McNichols will only be coaching two hurdlers at the meet due to some confusion in the selection process following the USA Track and Field Championships last month at Indianapolis.

The best Americans are asked to compete in the International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships. Those championships begin Aug. 25 in Osaka, Japan, and normally the next tier of competitors compete in the Pan American Games.

But this is also in the middle of a season of racing in Europe in which athletes earn quality pay days. Among those athletes is Herring (ranked 16th in the world by IAAF), McNichols’ pupil who also serves as an assistant for the Sycamores.

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