By Robert Bao
Olympian -- JUDI BROWN (CLARKE) (Summer 2008)
Member, U.S. Women’s Track Team
Silver Medal, 400-meter hurdles, 1984 Summer Games, Los Angeles, CA
Judi Brown Clarke, ’83, M.A. ’95, a member of the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame, is a 12-time Big Ten champion in track and field, three-time gold medalist at the Pan American Games and silver medalist in the 400-meter hurdles at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, CA. In 1982 Brown helped MSU win its first Big Ten Indoor Championship in women’s track and field and was named Big Ten Woman Athlete of the Year. In 1983 she was named the NCAA’s Suzy Favor Female Athlete of the Year.
Known for her volunteer work with underprivileged children, Brown made the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1987 as one of eight “Athletes Who Care”—the magazine’s “Sportsmen of the Year.”
A native of Milwaukee, WI, Brown’s family moved to Lansing in 1978 after a stint in Indiana. “I wasn’t a track person at all back then,” recalls Brown. “I knew I was fast, but had no training. (Former MSU track) Coach (Jim) Bibbs brought that out in me.”
She came to love track, especially her MSU teammates from the Big Ten championship team. “We had one of the best teams ever, not just in athletic talent, but also in commitment and spirit,” recalls Brown. “Everybody was there for each other.”
Her Olympic experience was partly an ordeal. “In retrospect, it was wonderful,” she recalls. “But at the time, I was nervous as hell. My race was televised live in prime time, which provided additional pressure.”
Brown was MSU track coach from 1992-97, then worked for the state’s children services department, and returned to MSU in 2006 as director of multi-cultural affairs and inclusion, College of Communication Arts & Sciences.
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Judi Brown Clarke, wearing her silver medal, poses at MSU’s outdoor track.