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Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Olympic hurdler inspiring Malverne runners

There are millions of people who run and jump every day in the United States — some for exercise, others for fun and even a few to catch the bus. But of those people, it would be tough to find someone who could run and jump better than Lakeview native Derrick Adkins.

In 1996, Adkins, who is now 42 and a current Lakeview resident, ran and jumped his way to immortality in the world of track and field as he took home the gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles at the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. Adkins finished the race in just 47.54 seconds. Sixteen years later, his life still revolves around running.

Since 2005, Adkins has raced in the annual Malverne Run For Education 5K. He said he doesn’t race to win, but to be a part of the community. “A lot of people seem to be happy to see me, and want to shake my hand,” he said. “I think it boosts morale for the event, and it’s a fun day to come out and help where I can.”

Proceeds from the race support educational programs in the Malverne School District. The Malverne 5K is organized by the Malverne Educational and Fitness Foundation in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Malverne. Phyllis Wright, president of the MEFF, said having Adkins participate in the race has been great for the community.

“It’s just awesome to have Derrick involved with us on a personal note because it’s always wonderful to have alumni of the school district want to give back,” she said. “Derrick would have done this whether he was a gold medalist or not because he’s just that kind of community-minded person.”

Adkins has also been actively involved in the Derrick Adkins Holiday Classic, a track and field meet that was named after him in 2000 and is open to high school athletes. The race is hosted by the Lakeview Youth Federation, an organization that Adkins has been a part since childhood and now serves as a representative for.

Lynbrook Village Trustee Thomas Atkinson is the same age as Adkins and said the runner’s name has always stuck with him since it’s similar to his own. Atkinson can remember when he was a third-grader at Our Lady of Peace School, his friends at Davison Avenue School would tell him how Adkins was the fastest kid in their whole building, which is a big deal when you’re in third grade.

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