Track coach breaks own world record

By David Lim

Track coach Felix Sanchez broke the indoor world record in the 400-meter hurdles on Feb. 18 at an international meet in Val De Reuil, France. Sanchez, nicknamed “Super Felix,” clocked in at 48.78 seconds to break his own indoor world record of 49.25, which he had set just two weeks before.

Sanchez, a two-time International Association of Athletics Federation World Champion, brought home his native Dominican Republic its first Olympic gold medal in 2004. He is currently training to compete in his fourth Olympics in London this summer.

“I wouldn’t be training as hard I am if I didn’t want to win,” Sanchez said.

He usually spends two hours on the track in the morning and heads to the gym after coaching the track team in the afternoon.

Now in his 12th year coaching at Harvard-Westlake, Sanchez first came to the track program right out of USC, where he was a PAC-10 Champion and received All-American honors. He won his first IAAF World Championship in the same year he joined the coaching staff.

Track and Field Program Head Jonas Koolsbergen asked him that year if he was coming back with his first international medal under his belt.

“[Koolsbergen] didn’t know if I was going to come back because I was a World Champion now, and maybe coming back to coach was peanuts. But no, I enjoyed it,” Sanchez said. “For about three or four years, he asked me, ‘Are you going to come back?’ He doesn’t ask me anymore.”

“It’s just you against six or seven other guys,” Sanchez said. “There’s nothing like entering a stadium, the crowds buzzing. The gun goes off and when you cross the line first and you win, there’s no better feeling.”