1. Archive

A stricken Hayes visits track meet

By simply showing up at the track Saturday, Bob Hayes gave a gold-medal performance.

Barely able to walk, the ailing 1964 Olympic gold medalist and former NFL star talked doctors into releasing him from the hospital for just a few hours so he could attend a high school track meet named for him.

"I told them this was my baby," said Hayes, a Jacksonville native and resident, who has attended all 37 Bob Hayes Invitationals. "If they wouldn't release me, I was coming anyway. They don't know how important this is to me."

They probably do now, and so would any of the 2,500 competitors, coaches and parents who filled the stadium near where Hayes competed as a prep star some 40 years ago.

As the competition was halted, a white, stretch limousine drove "The Bullet" across the track, to the middle of the field. Hayes' son, Bob Jr., helped lift him out of the limo and into a wheelchair.

"Hey guys, we've got some gold today," he said, pointing to the gold medal dangling from his neck. It's one of two he won at the 1964 Olympics, when he was dubbed "The World's Fastest Human."

He was all smiles for the moment, although the pain was hard to mask. Hayes has been in the hospital since Feb. 27, fighting heart, liver and kidney ailments. He also had prostate surgery.