In honor of March being Women’s History month, it’s an honor to celebrate the incredible women athletes on the Oregon22 Heritage Trail.
The Oregon22 Heritage Trail was created across the state in partnership with the Museum of World Athletics (MOWA) ahead of the World Athletics Championships that took place in Eugene last summer and is intended to inspire people to see many places around Oregon.
The athletes along the Oregon22 Heritage Trail have all met specific criteria that includes global medal status; no doping blemishes on their records; are, or have been, residents of Oregon; and are retired from active competition. The Trail memorializes athletes who are considered an intrinsic part of Oregon’s proud athletic heritage. Of the 22 track and field athletes recognized, eight are women who have made incredible contributions to the sport.
10K - Silver, Beijing Olympics 2008; Bronze, IAAF WCCC 2011
Plaque Location: George Rogers Park, Lake Oswego
Originally from Massachusetts, Shalane ran for the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. During her college days, she won national cross country titles in 2002 and 2003 becoming the first individual champion in Tar Heel history. Soon after graduation, Flanagan moved to Portland where she ran for Nike. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, she earned the silver medal in the 10K and in 2017 she became the first American woman to win the New York City Marathon since 1977. Today, Shalane is a coach for the Bowerman Track Club in Eugene.
High Jump - Gold, Pan Am Games 1975; Bronze, Pan Am Games 1983; Bronze, Los Angeles Olympics 1984
Plaque Location: Sheridan High School, Sheridan
Joni Huntley is an American high jumper born in McMinnville, Oregon. She attended Sheridan High School where she was the first high school girl to jump six feet, setting the NFHS national high school record. That same year, in 1974, Huntly won the Bill Hayward Athlete of the Year Award, honoring her as Oregon’s outstanding amateur athlete of the year (the third woman to win the award), and the Johnny Carpenter Award for High School Athlete of the Year, the first athlete to ever win both in the same year. Despite her accomplishments, no university was willing to offer her an athletic scholarship until Oregon State University made her the first female athlete to receive an athletic scholarship at the university. She competed in two Olympic games, winning Bronze in Los Angeles in 1984 and finishing fifth in Montreal in 1976. Today, she is a teacher in Portland, Oregon.
1500/3000/5000 Meters World Cross Country Team - Silver, Barcelona Olympics 1992; 3000 Meters - Bronze, Goodwill Games
Plaque Location: Pavilion Park, Coburg
Annette Peters ran for the Oregon Ducks at Hayward Field in the ‘80s, winning three national championships, four All-American track certificates, and was NCAA champion at 5,000 meters in 1988. She ended up earning her place on the Pac-10’s all-decade team. After college, she competed for the U.S. Olympic team at 3,000 meters in 1992, she won three national championships in the 1,500 meters and 3,000 meters in 1993, and then successfully defended her 3,000-meter crown in ‘94. Today, she is a teacher in Springfield, Oregon.
800 Meter - Bronze, IAAF World Championships 1997; Gold, Sydney Olympics 2000
Plaque Location: Shana Barr Trail Marker at Willamalane, Springfield
Maria Mutola is regarded as one of the greatest 800-meter runners of all time. From Maputo, Mozambique at just 15 years old, Mutola competed in the 800 meters in the 1988 African Championships held in Annaba, Algeria where she won the silver medal. Less than a month later, she competed in the 1989 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea where she finished seventh in her first-round heat, unable to progress to the semi-finals, but still only 15 years old. Years later, Mutola was awarded a scholarship to study and train in the United States, landing in Springfield, Oregon due to the fact that there was a Portuguese-speaking staff member. That same year, she finished fourth at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo with a controversial finish, failing to pass the third-place runner who used their elbows to impede her.
Despite never having gained a world record in her event, Mutola is considered one of the best to ever run the 800 meters because of her consistency and performance at major championships and her ability to compete at the highest level for over two decades unmatched. The 2008 Olympics marked her sixth consecutive Olympics and in total, she had won nine world titles including both indoor and outdoor championships. Her greatest achievement was winning the gold medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics where, upon returning home, crowds cheered her on and a street was named after her in her hometown of Maputo.
Today, the former world champion runs the Maria Mutola Foundation for women and girls in Mozambique, encouraging entrepreneurial skills and other empowerment projects.
Kelly Blair LaBounty
Heptathlon - Bronze, Goodwill Games 1998
Plaque Location: Charnel Mulligan Park, Eugene
Recruited as a two-sport athlete in basketball and track by the University of Oregon, after two seasons, Kelly Blair LaBounty decided to focus on her track career. In 1993, LaBounty won the national title in the heptathlon, her record still stands as the UO record and ranks third all-time in Pac-10 history. She qualified for the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta, Georgia where she finished sixth in the heptathlon. After winning bronze in the 1998 Goodwill games, she was sidelined by injury in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Today she still lives in Eugene with her family and has been inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame and the University of Oregon Athletics Hall of Fame.
Margaret Johnson Bailes
100 Meter Relay - Gold, Mexico City Olympics 1968
Plaque Location: Arts and Technology Academy (ATA) Track, Eugene
Margaret Johnson Bailes is the only Olympic gold medalist who grew up in Eugene. She ran for what is now known as the Arts and Technology Academy (ATA) and later at Churchill High School. To this day, Bailes still holds the all-time Oregon state high school records for the 100 meters and 200 meters set in 1968. At just 17 years old, Bailes ran the second leg of the 4x100 meter relay that won gold and set a world record at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. In 1991, Bailes became the first black female to be inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. Her plaque at the ATA Track in Eugene doubles as a stop on the Strides for Social Justice app
Heptathlon - Bronze, Rio de Janeiro Olympics 2016
Plaque Location: Amazon Trail, Eugene
Brianne Thelson currently holds the Canadian record in the heptathlon. Representing Canada, she won gold in the 2006 Pan American Junior Championships. Soon after, she became an Oregon Duck. While at UO she won back-to-back NCAA heptathlon titles and a bevy of other Pac-10 titles and notable wins. She finished second in the 2013 World Championships in Russia, the 2014 World Indoor Championships in Poland, the 2015 World Championships in China and in 2016 won the World Indoor Championships in the women’s pentathlon in Portland, Oregon. Later that year, she won the Bronze medal in the heptathlon at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. She is listed in the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.
Cathie Twomey Bellamy
Team Member - Gold, IAAF World Cross Country Championships 1984
Plaque Location: Amazon Trail, Eugene
Cathie Twomey Bellamy is an All-American runner who ran for the University of Minnesota. Throughout her career, Bellamy qualified for four Olympic Trials and competed in three U.S. Track & Field Olympic Trials finals. Additionally, she is a founding member of Athletic West, a post-collegiate Nike athletics team. Over the course of two years, she ranked in the top 10 in the U.S. on the track in at least one event from 1980-1982. She won the indoor national championship in the mile and set the world best at 20K in 1982 and in 1984, she was a runner on the gold medal winning US team in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. Since finishing her professional running career, she has coached high school running programs in Eugene at Marist High School and Sheldon High School where she oversaw numerous team and individual championships at both the district and state levels. Bellamy is well known in the Eugene community as she has also volunteered extensively at track events and has established the Eugene Running Club.
It’s a great honor to recognize these outstanding female track and field athletes with ties to Oregon during Women’s History Month and the Oregon22 Heritage Trail ensures they will continue to be recognized all year and for years to come.
To learn more about the Oregon22 Heritage Trail and see a map of plaque locations to explore, visit the webpage for the Trail.